Monday, December 29, 2008

Back from the land of pee

OH! Hello there.

I’m just peeking out above the mountain of pee and poo and paper towels that have become my life in the last month. Puppyhood – oh yes, now I remember. So my excuse for not blogging is that the new pup – Belle – has taken up all my spare time!
(pic by Joan McGrath, the breeder)

She’s adorable and cute, so I’m being very patient with the slow housebreaking. Can’t get mad at her over the “accidents” because, well, look at those eyes! Anyway, she’s just so busy that she can’t be bothered with asking to go out. At least she makes it close to the door (on my hardwood!) which tells me she knows she’s supposed to go out to do her business. She plays and plays and drinks and plays and squats and then right back to playing. Blue is her buddy and he kind of likes this new girl.
She has taken notice of the sheep but isn’t obsessed with going to the fence when we’re outside. She watched how Blue sticks his head through the fence to get him some sheep poop snacks and now that’s what she wants to do! EEWWW, not while you are still licking my face all the time……

This past weekend was nice and long and I really enjoyed it. I work for the Guvment and we were given the 26th off, just because we are such good little workers. That and 3 hours early leave on the 24th. Andre made French toast for Christmas morning and Turkey and fixins for dinner. Andre and I don’t exchange gifts, but I did have a couple of things for Erin, since she’s here now. She’s still looking for a job – turned out to be a lot harder than she thought it would be. I’m sure something will come along for her.

I worked the new hair sheep on Saturday and they are very nice. I’ve been just taking Heather out on them to get them settled and working with a good dog. Since they were working so nice I brought out Blue also and he was great. Pushy, but that’s fine because he had previously been so cautious to work. The sheep took off for the gate at one point and Blue put on his after burners and gathered them very nicely. We only worked for 10 minutes and stopped while things were still good. Then I brought out hyper Vic. 5 years old and still just a nut. But he didn’t upset these sheep which in turn kept him calm and I did up close work with him and then stopped when he seemed to be relaxed. I was very pleased with the dogs I worked and told the sheep THANK YOU. I’m so thankful now that I got those guys from Sue A. She helped me pick some out that she thought would work for us and they are perfect. Thanks SUE!

On Sunday, we were invited out to our friends’ farm in Romney WV to work dogs. It was a nice day and we had loads of fun. Heather was SO GOOD there – I have to be reminded not to take her for granted. She’s a mess at trials, but what a wonderful dog to work. She was so responsive to me yesterday - I know how lucky I am to have her.

I PROMISE to dust off the camera and take some pics to share. I have another long weekend coming up – Thursday of course is New Years, and I also took Friday off. Hope the weather holds and we can work dogs again!!!

Monday, November 24, 2008

a lil sumpin sumpin

We're going to pick up a new little addition to the family next Saturday.
Hint - woof woof yip yip.

Lazy B


Andre left Saturday for Maine to visit his parents. They aren’t well.
Because of all the animals at home to take care of and also because of the price of airfares!! our big trips are usually taken solo/sans significant other. I don’t worry so much when I am away from home because Andre does EVERYTHING at home anyway. He’s the cook, takes care of the dogs (morning shift) and various other things that just have to get done and I try not to take all he does for granted. I’m more worried when he’s away that I might not be able to survive! I’m a terrible cook but the last couple of days I’ve mostly just heated up some soup and had a few breakfasts/lunches out. Last night I had a WW frozen dinner. I’m at work today eating a can of microwaveable Chef Boyardee Beef Ravioli and it isn’t too bad. Poor Erin (daughter who has returned to nest) keeps asking when I’m going to the store for food. She’s never home anyway (Miss Social Butterfly), so I’m not worried about her. She’s happy as long as there is a case of Dr. Pepper in the fridge.
Note to self – make yourself a little less dispensable. Cook a little, don’t sleep in on weekends while your wonderful hubby is up at the crack of dawn and has already fed the dogs AND taken them for a long walk. Learn how to reset the hot tub when the power goes out! This happened yesterday and when I decided to get in last night because the air was crisp and stars were out, but the water temp was at 86 when it should have been 102 or so….I think. Then I remembered the power went out for just a blip during the day and Andre always does the Hot Tub resetting. He also keeps the water chemicals at all the levels they should be.
Wow – I just realized how lazy I really am! And get this! Andre won’t be home until Friday. Am I cooking Thanksgiving Dinner for myself and Erin? No. BUT I did make plans with a friend (who’s husband is also out of town) to meet at Cracker Barrel for their Thanksgiving Table. And Erin is invited of course. It sounds pretty good and best of all – no clean up afterwards. And I’m sure everything will be edible which is not guaranteed if I cook.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone. On Thursday I will take the time to remember that I am very thankful for my family and friends. I have wonderful people in my life.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Watch Out Virginia

Erin came home yesterday. She has decided she wants to live in Virginia again, having run out of boys in Florida I guess. She gave her 2 weeks notice at a job she had held FOR A WHOLE YEAR and will be starting over here. She says that living with us is just temporary. That’s fine. It’s what parents should do…...right? So the plan is that she’ll look for a job, save up some money, and then move out.
It will be a bit of an adjustment, but she’s an easy keeper for the most part. And because she lived on her own (with roommates) for awhile, she’s apparently acquired this strange habit of keeping her abode clean. MY DAUGHTER? She asked me where the cleaning supplies are (hahahaha) and said she’d be doing some housework during the day. She even said she now sees the necessity of cleaning baseboards because that’s where all the dust settles. I think at that point in the conversation my jaw was probably on the floor. I told her she wouldn’t hurt my feelings at all if she wanted to tidy up the place. With 6 dogs and 3 cats in the house, things get dirty and dusty and I can’t keep up. Not that I was ever a good housekeeper even when we didn’t have animals. I just never learned the art of keeping a clean house.
She mentioned she wanted to paint her room, and at that point Andre walked out of the computer room and said “I thought this was going to be temporary.” I think he’s a little worried.
Welcome Home Erin.

Monday, October 20, 2008

We're not in D.C. anymore, Toto....

We were getting ready to drive down to the Montpelier trial a few weekends ago and pulled into the local gas station to fill up the truck with diesel. I went in to prepay while Andre was at the pump. As I was leaving, a guy shouts out, “Your husband a coon hunter?” I wasn’t sure who he was talking to, but I turned around and sure enough he was looking at me. I said “Um, no.” Then he said he saw the dog box in the truck bed and said, “Yeah, he didn’t look familiar to me.” I told him what we did with our dogs and he had a blank stare just like I guess I did when he said he was a coon hunter. (Why do people hunt raccoons? What kind of dogs do they use? Do raccoons taste good?) I guess the coon hunters and the sheepdog people both use dog boxes.
Again, another moment we would never have experienced if we still lived near D.C. (and instead live pretty dang close to West Virginia.)
(We have the O-Style.)

Friday, October 10, 2008

Men are from Mars AND Venus

Andre is a High School History teacher. He told his class that when he was a student and was bored with a lecture, he could tune out for a bit, listening to every fourth word or so. He could then rest his brain a bit and still retain and understand most of what was being discussed when he tuned back in. He told them that he uses that same technique with his wife. He got a good laugh from that…..from his students, not me.
So last night I was reading in bed and mentioned to him that I had gone to Target during lunch and they had reading glasses AND cases on sale for $1 so I stocked up and bought a few. I realized he was just nodding at my story so I quizzed him about what I had just said. “Ummm, you went…somewhere…..and bought……something???”. Okay, so it wasn’t the most exciting conversation, but he needs to perfect his technique and at least pick up on the important nouns! I can’t get mad. I completely tune him out when I’m watching The Hills and he starts talking to me just when LC and Audrina are having one of their deep conversations about……oh yeah, they never talk about anything important and as a 51 year old woman, I should not be watching that show anyway!

Everyone is a critic

Last night I had the song Instant Karma in my head (it's on my IPOD) and was singing it while getting ready to go to bed. Heather had jumped up on our bed, acting like she belonged there and maybe we wouldn't notice her and she'd get a night of being a very special border collie who gets to sleep with her humans. But that doesn't happen in our house because Andre and I LIKE OUR SPACE IN OUR KING SIZED BED.
Anyway, as I was singing, she was lying on the bed, wagging her tail like a good little music critic suck up. It didn't matter that I couldn't remember the words or that I was out of tune. But then Andre comes in and says "You are scaring me". I asked him if it was because I sounded eerily like John Lennon. He said "Ummm, no". Guess I should keep my day job after all.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Montpelier here we come

We’re going to the Montpelier Sheepdog trial this weekend. None of our dogs are ready because we’ve been really bad lately about getting our asses off the couch in the evenings, when we should be out working the dogs. That and I’ve got some sheep that see Blue and decide they should cram their heads into a corner so tight that a crowbar couldn’t get them out. Not good for working a young dog that has confidence issues as it is. I worked those sheep last night with Heather (after putting a gate panel in that one corner!) and I think they just need to be worked by an experienced dog to get them to go with the program. I’m also on the hunt for a few dog broke hair sheep to add to the mix.
I’m taking off from work this Friday (and hopefully Andre can too) so we can head down with our trailer a little early and not have to pull in at dark like we usually do. The weather is supposed to be just perfect – around 70 each day – and sunny. I’ll never forget the year of the monsoon. What a mess. Rained the whole weekend and almost everyone had to be pulled out of the muck on Sunday.
Looking forward to just hanging out and talking with friends, watching the good dogs (they’re all good!) and handlers and enjoying the weekend outside in the fall. AACCHHHOOO. Oh – gotta remember to bring my Zyrtec. (Also need to bring my credit cards so I can make some fiber purchases at the vendor booths. Ssshhhh – don’t tell Andre, although he spends more than his share on Kettle Corn every year!)

Friday, September 26, 2008

New book on the nightstand

I am currently reading The Exact Same Moon, Fifty Acres and a Family, a book written by Jeanne Marie Laskas. I happened upon it during one of our Sunday forays to Borders.
She used to write a little column in the Washington Post Magazine that I looked forward to reading every Sunday. I was sad to learn that she had recently stopped writing it this year. I had no idea that she also wrote a couple of books about her life and moving to a farm, so when I just happened to see her name as I was glancing through the aisles, I was so excited! I like reading stories about real people, so I snatched it up and have started reading it this week. She’s easy to read and I’m enjoying the book. I can relate to some of her life – like moving from the city to a farm and all the interesting things that happen when you’re learning about farm life from scratch. Their new wonderful life on the farm is somewhat disrupted when she discovers she’s yearning to start a family. She writes about exploring IVF and adoption.
I’ll probably buy the book that precedes this one – Fifty Acres and a Poodle, A Story of Love, Livestock, and Finding Myself on a Farm.
I’d be glad to pass on the book toanyone who would like to read it.
(I have another book I read recently that I liked, along the same lines, about a lesbian couple who start a sheep farm. I’ll have to find the name of that one and review it here, because I enjoyed that one too.)

warning - a little political blurb

Quiz of the Day - Which one of these clips is the satire?
One is hilarious. The other disturbing. Heartbeat away disturbing.

I’m not NOT voting for McCain because of his running mate – I just don’t think he made a good choice there. And I don’t hate McCain. I was an Obama supporter long before either picked their running mates.

I had a dream last night that I was telling people to vote for Obama and I was crying. I think I need to stop watching CNN before bed…….

I told myself to not be political on this blog. I respect everyone’s right to their own views, but I know a lot of people get offended when they read opposing views, so I’ll stop posting anything more about this election after this entry (well maybe a little hooray when Obama wins).

I wish everyone would vote based on real issues that speak to them – be it Republican or Democrat. I just happen to agree with the Democratic platform on most issues. Don’t make it about race, or you heard one wasn’t a Christian, or one isn’t patriotic, or you heard his parent’s weren’t married (we heard that one – really!) or whatever other irrelevant internet rumor is out there at the moment.

Deb the Socialist (someone called me that when I said I supported Obama…..I just smiled.)

Monday, September 15, 2008

The Weekend Of The Ass Explosions

This weekend we learned something. Well, we had heard it before but it never hit home like it did yesterday. You should always GRADUALLY introduce a new dog food. We didn’t…….

We had traveled to a sheepdog handling clinic on Saturday and by the time we got home that evening we were too tired to go to the store to buy more dog food as we were out of their normal crappy Pedigree. So we used the bag of EVO that I had bought for Blue when I was looking for a really good, grain free food for him after he had his first seizure last month. That bag was sitting unused because the first time I gave it to him he had a seizure within an hour. I didn’t connect the food to that event, but after the evening meal and it happened again within an hour we figured there was a trigger in that food. That’s a whole nuther story and mystery that I hope to get to the bottom of. My suspicion is that it was the high protein content (42%!) which I’ve since heard may have a connection to triggering seizures in epi dogs. ANYWAY, the food itself is a very good food – should be for $50 a bag - so even though the vet said to not feed it to Blue, there was no reason to not feed it to the others. (Blue gets home cooked meals now which he LOVES!). So we fed it on Saturday and sometime during the night, Vic had the squirts. Gave him some tummy meds and off we went to another day of the clinic.

We got there and as we were letting dogs out of the dog box, they came flying out and each had been swimming in watery poo and it flew everywhere! I had it on my shirt, legs, arms and on my dog whistle – EEEWWWW. Maureen the hostess gave us a roll of paper towels (which we used up that day) and some Imodium for each of the dogs. Of course the only one that felt okay was Blue because he hadn’t touched that food. They are all better today, and we sure learned our lesson. Andre was cussing that food all day, because of what it did to Blue and now all the other dogs! He kept saying “And how much did you pay for that food????!!!!” Lot’s of people swear by it and it’s a very highly rated dog food – it’s just never going to be allowed in our house again because of the bad memories…….

Well that was the worst part of the weekend. The rest was great. I loved the clinic, loved the company and getting out and working dogs. The hosts - Maureen and Billy Pritchard - had everything set up and ready to roll and provided breakfasts and lunches each day that were great! They had a round pen, a medium size field and a large field to work in depending on what level you were. The sheep were little troopers and worked great with the exception of the BIG Corriedales that were put in at one point (they had to switch out sheep because it was getting very hot and humid). They were a little too friendly and would run right at the handler – kind of like having a buffalo trying to climb in your lap to be petted! They were promptly put back out to another field.

Carol Calhoun was the clinician and she is great at seeing what your issues are and giving you exercises to help you and your dog. I would recommend her to anyone who has a chance to take a lesson or go to a clinic with her. Unfortunately she lives too far away from us to take more than just an occasional clinic with her. I’ve gotten to know her from being at trials where she is running or judging and she has always freely offered wonderful, useful information to new handlers because she wants people to do well with their dogs and not struggle. I told her one time that I really appreciated that.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

don't take this wrong

Look at the pic in my blog header. That's Blue man. Relative newcomer to the sheepdog world.

Now look at this pic. Do you see the resemblance? (And I don't mean color.) The serious expression and of course the EARS.

I hope they are both headed for great things.

book shelf

The pile of books by my bed is not getting smaller. Every weekend when we're out just for coffee and the Sunday paper, Andre always says "Borders?". And we go because he thinks he would like to buy a book or two, but I'm the one who ends up buying 3 or 4 books. NOT IN OUR BUDGET.

I've been making an effort to read a chapter or two every night from the latest on the nightstand. I've almost completed Animal, Vegetable, Mineral by Barbara Kingsolver. It was an interesting book, but I have to say I've enjoyed her fiction more. One of my favorite books by her is Prodigal Summer. Back in my days of living in the suburbs in a real neighborhood, I was a member of a Book Club. I think I was President at one point! Anyway, this was the book that I lead the discussion on in my living room. (No one visits my living room now - and if they did I'd need a few days notice to vacuum and dust first!) At the end, I gave everyone packets of seeds from my cone flowers. There was some correlation I'm sure.....but they must have all thought I was a bit odd.

So, I'd recommend her current book for those who are interested in living closer to the land and eating locally. Her family did it for a year, but they already practically lived that life anyway. Most of us don't have huge gardens and livestock, but we do have access to local foods from the farmer's markets. We have started buying from a local farm that has pick-your-own as well as already harvested fruits and vegetables for us lazy folks. It's all good and we are supporting a local farming family. Makes everything taste that much better.

Friday, August 22, 2008


Can the world please stop just for a minute so I can catch my breath……PLEASE?

Life has been hitting me hard lately, and just when I think I can deal with and handle one situation, something else comes along to knock me on my ass.

This is one of those times that I need to sit back and realize that things aren’t really that bad in my life. No war or famine to deal with here, so I just need to put things in perspective.

Yeah, cancer sucks and it sometimes takes away people we love, but I really believe I’ll see them again.

And a current health issue with one of my dogs can be dealt with. I don’t want to see any of my animals sick, but I have the resources to take them to professionals who can hopefully make them better. (ummm…..Hello God?…..those resources, i.e. money, moola, credit cards…..are getting a little tight so can you please keep the rest of us healthy for right now?)

Friday, August 15, 2008


Oliver says "Hello, I want to rub your face please".

I'll get back to writing more next week. For now, the animals all say hey.

Sunday, August 10, 2008


Jeff Pursell - 6/21/49 - 8/8/08. Rest in peace my beautiful brother.

His last email to me in June ended this way;

"Read your blog, it looks and reads great!! Keep it up.

I'm glad he liked it - I will keep it up for him.......

Friday, August 1, 2008

My Brother

I love you Jeff.

ipod for dummies

I just bought this - me who barely uses a cell phone, and have never figured out how to get my messages off of it! My current job is testing software and I was a programmer for 20 years but the last few years I've become an old fogey when it comes to new gadgets and being "connected". So this is my first IPOD and I get the latest fancy one for some reason (Ipod Touch). Now I need to find someone to help me figure it out. My first question - how do you adjust the volume?????

Blue Debut

Last weekend was Blue’s first trial. It was a novice trial that had 2 trials/runs each day for each class, but we only entered on Saturday since I was leaving for my WV trip on Sunday. And for his very first run, HE GOT A SCORE. Only a 52, but it was a very respectable run for a very novice dog. He went up the middle on his outrun and I gave him some flanks to help him go around the sheep, so we lost ½ our outrun points. He got a 7 on his lift. The fetch was off line so we lost ½ our points there too. The rest was okay but he was getting pushy and wouldn’t take a lie down so we weaved on the wear a bit, losing points there. I like that he was pushy because that is something to work with. (I have another youngster that I am always having to encourage to stay into her sheep. That’s another story though….. ) The sheep were very nice for the beginner dogs and forgiving when a dog was too tight or a little too pushy. So we got around the course and even penned the sheep.

On his second run, he again went up the middle and because the set out had been moved back he was very tight coming into the sheep and pushed them off to towards the exhaust. I left the post and went to help him because he looked a little stressed about pulling them off the fence at the exhaust gate with someone standing there. I got closer and he gathered the sheep, brought them to me and then we stopped there.

I was very happy with both of his runs and I know he’ll be lots of fun to bring up. I haven’t worked him much up to this point because of some of his issues with being sensitive, but he now takes corrections without getting stressed and so now he needs more time on sheep! I know he’ll progress very quickly from this point on. He’ll be a good sheepdog (even though he looks like a hound dog!).

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Garden of Good and Evil

What I wanted to grow in my new garden…(Crookneck Squash)

What I planted instead by mistake. UGH.

I have no idea how to cook these things. (Butternut Squash)
I did some research and you have to peel them and then use the “meat” for soups.
I wanted some nice tender yellow squash to grill this summer. Oh well…..

Good news is that they are growing FAST and I have to keep re-directing the vines so they don’t take over the tomato plants. So once I figure out what to do with them, I’ll have plenty. Maybe I’ll share some with my co-workers.

I have to get a picture of my little, raised bed garden – it’s not pretty. I clearly didn’t know what I was doing and planted WAY too much in that little 8x6 box. 7 tomato plants, 2 strawberry plants, 3 cucumber plants, 9 (3 per hill) squash plants, basil, mint and rosemary (just remembered that one – I haven’t seen it in awhile because of the da*n squash! )

I am hot and cold when it comes to taking pictures, but I think it’s time to dust the camera off and get ready for my WV trip this weekend. I’ll try to get pictures on here soon.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Instant Karma

We live at the end of a 1 mile long gravel, one lane, curvey, hilly farm road and share it with the families in 2 other homes. We share the expense of upkeep and have had a bit of a struggle with one family who thinks they must go VERY FAST!! even though they may be saving 1 minute from one end to the other. I enjoy taking my time and look at all the birds (several times have had a flock of turkeys fly in front of me) and deer etc. that live along that little drive. But they must think of it as an amusement ride and get a thrill out of flying around corners and spinning out on the gravel and going over hills and bottoming out. No lie, they do that – we’ve witnessed it and said something. We’ve been nice about it because we do have to live near these folks, but the husband and his son just don’t get it. Annoying as hell, but we decided we would say something the next time they want $$$ to put down more gravel and grade the road.
Well…..turns out that there was a little accident a couple of weeks ago. Mom and son (just got his license last year) had an accident on the driveway. They ran into EACH OTHER at one of the corners. They weren’t hurt, but one of their cars sustained $7,000 worth of damage!!! This on a road where we agreed to go between 10-15 MPH! Now they want to put up mirrors and cut down trees. Nope. That would be enabling these guys. If you GO SLOW there isn’t an issue.

So I don’t know if John Lennon would call that Instant Karma, or if it’s Irony or Poetic Justice. I just know that when I heard about it I SMILED.

Speaking of John Lennon – we still miss you……

Instant Karma - John Lennon

Instant Karma's gonna get you,
Gonna knock you right on the head,
You better get yourself together,
Pretty soon you're gonna be dead,

What in the world you thinking of,
Laughing in the face of love,
What on earth you tryin' to do,
It's up to you, yeah you.

Instant Karma's gonna get you,
Gonna look you right in the face,
Better get yourself together darlin',
Join the human race,

How in the world you gonna see,
Laughin' at fools like me,
Who on earth d'you think you are,
A super star, Well, right you are.

Well we all shine on,
Like the moon and the stars and the sun,
Well we all shine on,
Ev'ryone come on.

Instant Karma's gonna get you,
Gonna knock you off your feet,
Better recognize your brothers,
Ev'ryone you meet,

Why in the world are we here,
Surely not to live in pain and fear,
Why on earth are you there,
When you're ev'rywhere,
Come and get your share.

Well we all shine on,
Like the moon and the stars and the sun,
Yeah we all shine on,
Come on and on and on on on,

Well we all shine on,
Like the moon and the stars and the sun,
Yeah we all shine on,
On and on and on on and on.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

VBCA Summer Trial

Last weekend we went to the VBCA (Virginia Border Collie Association) summer trial and annual meeting. It was held at the beautiful farm of Richard and Rae Rogers in Luray, VA. I just love the spectacular views of the mountains from their place. And they are unsurpassed in their hospitality. Wonderful folks.
I’m not going to go into detail about our runs because they were awful. The best thing about Heather’s run is that she didn’t grip for once. But she was pushy as hell and we never did get the sheep settled. Andre was sick on Saturday but went anyway and he just wasn’t into working his dog. Champ was pushy and the sheep wouldn’t settle to get around the course nicely (I’m seeing a trend here……).
On Sunday I ran Vic in Novice Novice and before I went in I saw the mud at the entry gate (we had some rain that day) and was worried that he would pull me down into it. Someone suggested that I go into the field without his leash on – what’s the worst he could do? WELL……he took off down the field before we even got to the post. Thankfully they hadn’t brought the sheep down yet so he finally came back to me after running all over the field looking for SHEEP. Afterwards, some people said they loved his double lift (something that is done in OPEN trials where the dog has to gather one set of sheep and then “look back” for a second set and then bring them all – not exactly what we were supposed to be doing in this trial….) This boy is 4 years old and has never settled down – and we just can’t get him to understand that we are in the picture. I’ve had the bright idea lately to let him gather our sheep at home in the evenings when they are out in the yard grazing, thinking that if he does this daily then he won’t be so hyped up every time he sees sheep. That has helped some, but it has also made him a sheep gathering fool! He’ll now go out for potty breaks with the rest of the gang and will push his way through 2 gates before we notice all the sheep moving and coming into the paddock……Vic following nicely behind. What do I do with this guy?
I think we’ve ended up with some dogs that needed good handlers who could have seen the issues and dealt with them – and we’re not good handlers. But we’re having fun – YES Andre – You Are Having Fun!!! I do enjoy this even if I don’t place, but Andre is a little more competitive and would enjoy trialing more if he could place occasionally. He’s learning patience….
The trial went well for most people – the sheep were good but a bit challenging to pen and also seemed to not want to split for the OPEN dogs to shed. Nathan Mooney was the judge and did a great job. Seems lately I don’t hear complaining like I used to at trials about this and that – I think people are grateful and understand the hard work that goes into putting on a trial. Thanks VBCA.

Next Trial = Keepstone Farm, July 26th. Blue’s Debut.

How to save $1500 in one day....

Cross kayak purchase off the list.
Don’t get me wrong - the kayak trip was a lot of fun! We drove up to Rocky Gap State Park in MD last Wednesday and rented 2 kayaks. The lake there was on the small side and we decided a 1 hour rental would a good amount of time to paddle around a few times and get our feet wet so to speak. The hardest part was actually getting in and out of the kayaks. I felt a little awkward at first and felt like I was going to tip over, but it turned out they are pretty sturdy and surprisingly easy to maneuver. I enjoyed it, but we got a little bored just going up and down this little lake. I think the next time we’ll try going down a river. I would recommend a lake first for first timers like me, just to get a feel for it. We did have blisters on our thumbs, so maybe gloves would help with that.
We’re glad we did this test run before buying 2 kayaks, because after doing the math we realized we just wouldn’t go enough to justify buying the kayaks versus renting them every time. We only paid $5/hour rental, and that is probably the norm for most state parks. We stopped in at Cacapon State Park in WV on the way back and they also rent kayaks. If we decide to do a river trip, that only runs about $40 at the outfitters. So we’d have to do a lot of trips to even come close to the $700+ each to buy our own. Last year we wouldn’t have blinked an eye at that, but we’ve had to tighten our belts lately because of the sucky economy.
Wish I had pics to share, but I didn’t want the camera to fall in the water so I just didn’t bring it along.

Monday, June 30, 2008

This little sheepy went to market.....

Yesterday was another milestone for us. It was our first time taking sheep to the Livestock Exchange for auction. I knew I wanted to send most of the Cheviot ewes to market at some point, but it became clear lately that we had way too many sheep on the land we’re using – the grass was not keeping up with all those sheep. We are making very good use of the electronet to allow grazing in our backyard off and on, and we’ve kept them off the neighbors field (very nice man who lets us use a 5+ acre pasture for free) for a couple of weeks to let that grow back. I over seeded it with some pasture mix awhile back and that does seem to be coming in, but with so many sheep (25!) it wasn’t getting a good head start before I had to put them back in that field. I assessed the situation and decided their lambs were big enough to be weaned and so we decided Sunday was the day. 5 ewes loaded on the trailer and off to market we went. I kept 2 of the Cheviot ewes to breed to again one more time to get those nice Cheviot x Border Leicester cross babies – they grew fast and are FAT. At some point we’ll have to take more to market but not until the lambs are bigger and can get a good price. The man at the market who took them in said that they were getting good prices for sheep lately.
Here’s the interesting part. I was a little sad about this, but Andre actually lost sleep over it. He’s such a tender heart. And I guess that makes me heartless? Probably not since in my mind they are going to be purchased by a nice couple who just want some sheep to keep on their lawn, so they can watch them graze while they sit in their rocking chairs on their front porch.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


Andre has been talking A LOT lately about kayaking. So we looked at kayaks at Gander Mountain and I think we can justify the expense because we really need another recreational activity (besides the sheep and dogs etc.) and this seems to be a nice way to get outside and enjoy nature. I would never have thought about kayaking, but it does sound like fun. The first year we were married, we went on a canoe trip on the Allagash River in the North Maine Woods in Maine. (Andre’s dad worked for many years in the logging camps. His grandmother was a teacher in a one room school in Allagash Village)
Four days in the middle of nowhere, canoeing each day till my arms ached, escaping to a quickly erected tent to get away from the black flies and mosquitoes, doing “Portage” (carrying EVERYTHING 1 mile downriver to avoid the falls), losing the canoe!! as we were setting up camp one evening (it drifted away off the shore because we were removing items and thus weight. Luckily it came ashore a few hundred feet downriver in a turn!) - it was the best vacation ever. We heard moose at night, foraging the grasses in the river right below our tent on the bank. I sat at camp one morning and saw a mother moose and her baby crossing the river. Just a wonderful trip that we did a few more times and that I’d like to do again one day.
We don’t have areas around VA that are that remote, but we have found some recreational areas that we could kayak that should be nice. We’re probably going to try it out first by renting kayaks – and silly me offered up our anniversary day to do this (July 2nd - 14 years of bliss ) I’m taking the day off, hoping that it will be a nice day and we’re going to Rocky Gap State Park in western MD,
to give this a try. I’ll take pictures and upload them here. I just don’t ever want to have to do the Eskimo roll, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed.
I’m a nature girl at heart – I get that from my mother who loved to tend to her garden and flowers. She and her sisters all shared a love of nature and I cherish the fond memories I have of our family gatherings at Blackwater Falls and Canaan Valley, WV and the nature walks where they would know more about the fauna and flora than the park rangers! I’m excited that some of my cousins made plans to go back to Canaan Valley next month and so I’ll also be going for 3 days. I’ll see my brothers (I hope they are all going) whom I don’t see often enough and some cousins whom I haven’t seen in years.
I’m definitely feeling the need to REFRESH lately – I think the kayaking and the trip to WV should do the trick.

Friday, June 13, 2008

It's my birthday and I'll cry if I want to.....

Actually it's okay. But I want the wiser part along with the older part.

Thursday, June 12, 2008


Why did Andre buy those Suzy-Q's? Why did he "hide" them in the cupboard that I always open for one reason or another? He could have at least put them in the garage, in the tool box that he knows I never look into.
Okay - I normally wouldn't be tempted by those nasty snacks, but last night I was on the hunt for something, and I didn't know what I wanted. I found those evil treats and decided to try one. Good thing was that 2 bites into it I almost got sick. They were really awful - I think I could taste the preservatives. So I tossed the rest.
And today is WEIGH IN at WW. I'm going even though I've haven't kept very good track this week. Even if I've gained a pound or two, I'll go back next week and the next week, and every week until I reach my goal. I'm determined this time.
10 pounds so far.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

With a nice mint sauce

We had 2 of our lambs "processed" in March......for our freezer. It's a real nice benefit of raising your own sheep. Some people don't want to think about where their food really comes from - I know I was that way. I even had a hard time eating eggs from our chickens at one time. I got over it because, really, I want to be more aware of where my food originates. And it isn't in the meat or produce section of the grocery store.
Now that I'm becoming more aware of FOOD, I'm much more inclined to buy produce and meat from local farmers. The produce hasn't traveled 1500 miles to get to my table. Plus with the meat, you know the animals haven't been raised in feedlots and in horrible, uncaring conditions. And now that we've taken the BIG step of actually eating an animal that we cared for, we've entered, just a tiny bit, into a way of life that is probably not too unlike that of our recent ancestors. I'm still getting my head and heart around it. But I feel good about giving these sheep a very good and peaceful life. And I'm grateful to them for their sacrifice at the end. (We have figured out that we can't name anyone who will eventually be put in the freezer though. )
A few of my friends think I'm heartless and I even had one person plug her ears with her fingers when I talked about the leg of lamb we grilled the night before. She was eating a beef taco salad at the time......
Another asked when we were going to murder our next lamb............oh well.
So it's another strange journey and life lesson I'm dragging Andre through. He wasn't happy about bringing the sheep to the butcher. But a few months passed and we finally took out a leg of lamb from the freezer, marinated it for 2 days and grilled it. I made a GREAT mint sauce to go with and it was all very good.
Mint Sauce
1/2 cup Malt Vinegar
1/2 cup chopped mint leaves
2 teaspoons brown sugar. (add more to taste)
Heat the vinegar and brown sugar until the sugar melts. Cool a bit and then add the mint leaves. Let sit for an hour or so. Serve with lamb.

Monday, June 9, 2008


The dog trial this weekend turned out to be one of the hottest trial weekends we've ever experienced. I had plans to run Blue in some fun-runs, but when we started hearing the weather reports earlier in the week that the temps were going to be close to 100 we figured they weren't going to run any more dogs than were already signed up - we were right. So we only brought the 3 dogs that were entered - Champ, Heather and Vic. All just running in PN or NN. The outruns had been shortened significantly and the Judge - Tom Lacy - told the handlers that they could stop their runs if they felt (or he felt) that the dogs or sheep were overheating and would keep their points up to that point. It was a weekend for those types of relaxed rules. Did I mention it was HOT? Thank goodness Stacy Scott and Peter Hall (they put on the trial) had plenty of water tanks and wading pools set up all around the field, in the sheep pens and for the set out dogs.
I used Heather to hold out for the Ranch class and after the fact I realized that this probably wasn't a good idea since Andre was going to run her. After this weekend we pretty much decided that I'll go back to running Heather - she's a great dog but not easy, and she wasn't making the switch very well either. I'll probably enter her in some non-compete runs in Pro-Novice to try and work out her issues on the fetch.
They setup the NN and PN runs so the set out was not at the same angle in the field as the Ranch and Open classes were held. Instead, it was to the right side of the (huge) field and closer to where they had another handling system set up. This kept the workers from having to relay the sheep to the set out. There was a set of panels set up and the sheep were held directly past those for PN and in front of for NN, but in the center so the dogs could see them when sending. A LOT of dogs did not seem to see the sheep and if sent to the right, were crossing over and going up the field to the left, which was the angle where the upper classes had been setting out. Andre sent to the left with Heather which left that huge open field for her to run and run and run - she's a BIG outrunner and she ran so far that he started to panic because he couldn't see her. Handler error on that one. He just doesn't know Heather. I would have never sent her that way. Plus she was probably remembering where we held out for the Ranch class -my bad. The next day he sent her right and she had a nice outrun, went to say hello to the sheep in the pen, was redirected and then she got her sheep. She was very pushy on the fetch and Andre got flustered and gave her many wrong flanks around the post which she tried to take which made Andre give her another wrong flank etc. etc. She finally figured out which way he wanted her to go and I think it just frazzled her. They finished but it wasn't pretty.
With Champ he had an okay run on the first day and was 7th, on the second day he lost one of his sheep on the lift. The sheep didn't really want to play on Sunday and there were a lot of retires because they would take off for the holding pen or the exhaust pen if they had a chance.
I ran Vic in NN. I made sure he saw his sheep, let him go to the left and he immediately crossed over. Besides that he had a very nice outrun (of course he only got a 1 on the outrun!). The rest of the run was a blur but we made it to the pen. We finished 5th (out of 14 I think) with a whopping score of 20!!! Tells you what a tough day it was for everyone! Sunday he lost the sheep during the lift so we retired. He was just such a happy boy and so proud of himself. I need to work him more.
Renee and Mark Billadeau cleaned up in the Open class. I like watching Renee run her dogs (Mark too!) -she's so quiet. I like that. I strive for that. I'm still too screeetchy because of my nerves.
I started thinking about why so many of the PN and NN dogs didn't seem to see their sheep. Some people blamed it on the panels, so they laid the panels down the next day. Didn't make a bit of difference - there were still dogs searching for their sheep. They all seemed to want to go up towards the middle of the long stretch of the field(if that makes sense?). Some seemed to see their sheep and still had problems. Something dawned on me. A lot of people course train. I know that's what we've done even though I knew we should be doing it different. But it's easy to get in a rut. It's easy for trainers to do the same old things and repeat it with each of the dogs they have in. And it's easy to train in that rut and not move panels around and do different types of work besides a course. I've made a big change recently in regards to where I'm going to work and train in part because it hadn't been feeling right to me. OH YEAH - MY POINT. If you just course train and it's on the same field everytime, and nothing ever changes, could it be that you aren't teaching your dog to look for his sheep? I mean, they know where the sheep are going to be every time you send. So when you go to a trial, how have you given them the tools they need - to think, to respond to different pressures, set ups etc. I feel so guilty now that I'm going to set up my fields at home to give my dogs different situations to help them. I need a plan. I'll work on that this week and report back.

I needed this.....

I needed to laugh today. This did it. From
Deep Thoughts by Jack Handey
24) Maybe in order to understand mankind, we have to look at the word itself: "Mankind." Basically, it's made up of two separate words, mank and ind. What do these words mean? It's a mystery, and that's why so is mankind.
23) If you're a young Mafia gangster out on your first date, I bet it's real embarrassing if someone tries to kill you.
22) I can picture in my mind a world without war, a world without hate. And I can picture us attacking that world, because they'd never expect it.
21) For mad scientists who keep brains in jars, here's a tip: why not add a slice of lemon to each jar, for freshness?
20) If you ever crawl inside an old hollow log and go to sleep, and while you're in there some guys come and seal up both ends and then put it on a truck and take it to another city, boy, I don't know what to tell you.
19) Children need encouragement. If a kid gets an answer right, tell him it was a lucky guess. That way he develops a good, lucky feeling.
18) Can't the Marx Brothers be arrested and maybe even tortured for all the confusion and problems they've caused?
17) If they ever come up with a swashbuckling School, I think one of the courses should be Laughing, Then Jumping Off Something.
16) To me, it's always a good idea to always carry two sacks of something when you walk around. That way, if anybody says, "Hey, can you give me a hand?," you can say, "Sorry, got these sacks."
15) I guess we were all guilty, in a way. We all shot him, we all skinned him, and we all got a complimentary bumper sticker that said, "I helped skin Bob."
14) It's funny that pirates were always going around searching for treasure, and they never realized that the real treasure was the fond memories they were creating.
13) If you're a horse, and someone gets on you, and falls off, and then gets right back on you, I think you should buck him off right away.
12) When I was a kid my favorite relative was Uncle Caveman. After school we'd all go play in his cave, and every once in a while he would eat one of us. It wasn't until later that I found out that Uncle Caveman was a bear.
11) Dad always thought laughter was the best medicine, which I guess is why several of us died of tuberculosis.
10) If you're in a war, instead of throwing a hand grenade at the enemy, throw one of those small pumpkins. Maybe it'll make everyone think how stupid war is, and while they are thinking, you can throw a real grenade at them.
9) I hope if dogs ever take over the world, and they chose a king, they don't just go by size, because I bet there are some Chihuahuas with some good ideas.
8) To me, clowns aren't funny. In fact, they're kind of scary. I've wondered where this started and I think it goes back to the time I went to the circus, and a clown killed my dad.
7) Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes. That way, when you criticize them, you're a mile away and you have their shoes.
6) One thing kids like is to be tricked. For instance, I was going to take my little nephew to Disneyland, but instead I drove him to an old burned-out warehouse. "Oh, no," I said, "Disneyland burned down." He cried and cried, but I think that deep down he thought it was a pretty good joke. I started to drive over to the real Disneyland, but it was getting pretty late.
5) If God dwells inside us, like some people say, I sure hope He like enchiladas, because that's what He's getting!
4) It takes a big man to cry, but it takes a bigger man to laugh at that man.
3) If you ever fall off the Sears Tower, just go real limp, because maybe you'll look like a dummy and people will try to catch you because, hey, free dummy.
2) If you're a cowboy and you're dragging a guy behind your horse, I bet it would really make you mad if you looked back and the guy was reading a magazine.
1) If a kid asks where rain comes from, I think a cute thing to tell him is "God is crying." And if he asks why God is crying, another cute thing to tell him is "Probably because of something you did."
All material copyright by Jack Handey

Monday, June 2, 2008

My favorite teacher.....

Heather girl.

cut it out....

I'm a little sad, but a lot relieved. I finally made a decision to disassociate myself from someone who had become a huge negative energy in my life. It was a long time coming. I had excused extremely bad and rude behavior for a very long time in the hopes that this person would change. It was only getting worse and I felt as if I was constantly compromising myself in order to keep the peace. After a lot of thought over the last few years (yep, I hang in there!) and a "last straw" moment, it was done, kaput. I feel like I can breathe. Not too unlike when I finally made the decision to give up on my first marriage. Once you make that decision, you know immediately that it was best.

edited to add: I just read this over and realized that someone might think I'm referring to Andre. NO - I'll never let that man get away from me!!!

Friday, May 30, 2008

The nerves are starting.....

We're entered in a sheepdog trial next weekend. I haven't trialed in about a year, so I'm a little nervous. I'm not running Heather - I've let Andre work her lately and he'll run her in Pro-Novice which is good for him AND her. She was getting very naughty on the lift and fetch in the Ranch courses with me and the last trials I ran her in resulted in DQs because she was gripping on the fetch. Never did figure that out, but I thought that the shorter outrun AND having Andre run her might make her not lose her head.
SO I'm nervous because I'm running Vic. He's a nut. SO hyper. But I've been letting him do practical work at home - bringing in the moms and lambs - and he's becoming a different dog. It's so nice having my own sheep to work. I see such a difference in the dogs. So we'll see how he does at the trial. Even though he hasn't been a star on the trial field, I absolutely LOVE this boy and tell him that when they make it legal, I'm going to marry him! (yes - I'm a weird one)
I'm also going to let Blue run!!! There aren't a lot of dogs entered in the trial (50+), so they are having "FUN" runs if it's not too hot (my emphasis on fun, so I remember to keep my head on!). I thought this might be a nice introduction for him. He's not quite ready for trialing - doesn't really know his flanks yet - but he can do a decent outrun and fetch and he wears very nicely, so I'll be happy if we get that far. He's such a cute bugger and I have to keep from laughing at him when we're working sheep because he gets SO SERIOUS, and all other times he's a complete goober.
The trial is at the beautiful Mount Vernon Farm in Sperryville VA. Absolutely wonderful place for a trial. They raise grass fed cattle, lamb etc. and sell it there. Cliff, the owner, will be grilling up some of their home grown burgers (and lamb sausages hopefully!) for lunch.

Friday, May 23, 2008


A friend of mine at work invited Andre and I to her house for a get together last night. Carol and her husband Bruno were hosting a guy who had come in to do book signings and he's also giving the commencement speach for Shepherd Community College (? I think). He's originally from Martinsburg, WV and has ties to the community etc. etc. etc. They've come to know him in the last 10 years or so through other friends and he usually stays with them. Anyway, he's written a book about Lincoln and I thought Andre would enjoy talking to him. So the guy's name is David Selby and he's also an actor. As soon as I saw him I knew I'd seen him in things - turns out he was in Dark Shadows (there is a huge cult following for that show believe it or not - kind of like trekkies!), Falcon Crest, some movies etc. It was a nice evening because they had finished a day of book signings (he and his lovely wife Chip and his publicist) and then came by Carol and Bruno's house to relax and talk to us. Andre had him practically all to himself and he probably is coming to Andre's High School in the fall to talk to his students. What a change from our normal lives, and hey, we were rubbing elbows with Hollywood (The closest we'll ever get!)

Thursday, May 22, 2008

same ole.....

Not much going on lately, which is actually a good thing. Pulled a thorn out of a limping lamb and it made me feel like I'm important in the lives of my sheep. Then 2 days ago Jazzy (big mama ewe) started limping. We caught her (Andre LOVES to do that for some reason) and flipped her and her hooves were overgrown. Trimmed them back, put some magical stuff on it and she's walking better today. I really love taking care of my sheep. And watching them sitting there chewing their cud like they have no care in the world. I keep thinking "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want....", and no I don't think I'm God, but I do want to be a good shepherd to my flock and do all I can to provide a nice life for them. They in return get to help us when I train my border collies to work them. The dogs are now learning about moving lambs and about dealing with some protective mamas and how to keep off of them just enough not to piss them off, but to convince them to move.
Helping with a trial this weekend - AKC (UGH, don't agree with AKC conformation showing and how it has ruined too many breeds, but I do like to see the other breeds working sheep (shelties, corgis, bearded collies, GSDs) and their owners working together in any venue available. None of my dogs are or ever will be registered with AKC - don't get me started as this is a huge issue within the border collie working dog world). Anyway, this may make me a hypocrit by being involved in this ACK! trial, but I do help out my neighbor who needs to make a living, which she does by putting on trials, training etc. Helping out gets me free sheeptime at her farm. I also enjoy most of the people who come to these trials, although there are always the idiots who complain about this and that. They want "trained" sheep and don't seem to understand that this is LIVESTOCK, and you must expect the unexpected. On Monday there is an AHBA trial (all breeds also) and these are fun and a little more laid back. I'll be using Heather to hold sheep for all these trials - 3 days worth-, which means we set (settle and hold with pressure from me and Heather) until the dog running does an outrun and then lifts them to bring them to their handler. Heather LOVES working and although this job of doing setout might cause issues with her strong eye, I've decided to do what we like to do. She's my first dog and I've made plenty of mistakes with her, but she's taught me TONS because she is such a natural. The issues she has have only been because I didn't know how to work them out with her, but I'm happy and she's happy with our journey.

Friday, May 9, 2008


So Erin sends a picture of her and her new boyfriend. hmmmm.....what's up with the halo? Or is it a crown? Is this what they call a subliminal message? She wants me to think he's an angel?
Oh - and I hate cell phone cameras. Everything looks so fuzzy.
love you Erin.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008


I've decided to go to Weight Watchers.....again. I did it for awhile a couple years ago and lost 10 pounds, and it was surprisingly easy! I just got bored (i.e.weak). But those pounds have come back to visit and brought some of their friends along, so I really do need to get serious and get rid of all that extra weight I've been carrying around for way too long.
I'm on BP meds and Lipitor, and I could probably get off all those meds if I would just lose some weight and EXERCISE! ugh. I've finally realized that my aching back and my lack of energy might have something to do with the extra 40 lbs I've put on in the last 5 years. So this time I'm going to do it with a vengeance and I'm putting it on this blog for a little extra accountability. :)
Andre might even join with me. A fellow teacher at his school lost 90 pounds on WW. Of course Andre probably lost 10 pounds just thinking about going on a diet - MEN!

Monday, May 5, 2008


My thirty something niece was diagnosed with a primary brain tumor several months ago. She and her husband have 2 little ones, the oldest just started kindergarten this past year I think. I'm on a list to get periodic updates written by her loving husband Larry. Just last week he shared that Miche is not going to continue with her chemo and they have entered hospice care.
Miche and Larry are very strong in their faith and have a strong support system of friends and family who also have a strong faith in God.
It is so special and wonderful that they are accepting this as Gods plan. But she is so young and she has those 2 little ones to raise, and I keep asking myself "What the hell is God thinking?".
Keep strong, keep the faith Miche. Your Aunt Debbie.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

My daughter Erin came up to visit this past weekend and we saw her for a few minutes. Well, actually she spent the entire day with me on Friday - shopping of course! And eating sushi for lunch, which was wonderful.
She got to catch up with her old friends up here and created some drama because some boy thinks she's all that, and his girlfriend found out that Erin was here and was following him and all his friends around to make sure he didn't see Erin but they were very sneaky and all got to hang out together at Sweet Carolines.......oh god, now I remember what it's like to have her around. Love her, but it sure is nice to have the house to ourselves again so we can run around naked - just kidding!
Anyway, she has a new boyfriend in Tampa and was so excited to return. He sounds okay, but I'm still on the lookout for the perfect guy for her. So today when I'm reading the Border Collie Boards, someone mentions a new sheep shearer in VA and I go to his webpage and there he is. The perfect guy for us....I mean her. But wouldn't that be perfect? She'd get a really nice guy (so say people who have met him) and I'd get someone to help with my sheep! I'm a genius.
Here's his website - for those of you who need a shearer. Just don't marry him off to your daughters though - I call first dibs.

Monday, April 28, 2008

what's for dinner?

Andre just left a message here at work to tell me that he went grocery shopping at lunchtime and got the fixins for Chicken and Dumplings for dinner tonight! YUMMY. It's cold and rainy here and that sounds just perfect. Even better that he's cooking it and I can lay on the couch with Blue on my head (he jumps up on the couch, walks across the back and lays at my head, sometimes leaning over and giving me a kiss on the nose!), various other dogs at my feet, and just click through the channels while the magic happens in the kitchen.

What a good guy.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

You're so vain

Daughter Erin lives in Tampa (she's visiting this weekend - yeah!), so we sometimes email each other during the day from work. Today's email made me laugh.
Erin: "i have a boooooooyfriend :)"
Me: "Who? "
Erin: "jason :) the one i told you about that i went on a date with a couple weeks ago....oh he is very smitten :) "

Methinks shethinks alot of herself :)
Later today I sent her this - saying that I googled her new boyfriend and found his picture - just to bring her down a few notches......

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Little Bites of Heaven

I don’t cook or bake, mostly because no one will eat what I cook or bake, but last night I made these dumplings for dessert (dinner was a rotisserie chicken from the store and Stouffers Mac and Cheese - a hint about my usual efforts at cooking) and Andre and I were in HEAVEN. Of course I served with non-fat Vanilla ice cream......

Apple Dumplings
2 Granny Smith apples
2 cans crescent rolls
2 sticks butter
1 1/2 cups sugar1 teaspoons vanilla
1 small can Mountain Dew (I used about 6 oz/deb)
Peel and core apples. Cut apples into 8 slices each. Roll each apple slice in a crescent roll. Place in a 9 x 13 buttered pan. Melt butter, then add sugar and barely stir. Add vanilla, stir, and pour over apples. Pour Mountain Dew around the edges of the pan. Sprinkle with cinnamon and bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes. Serve with ice cream, and spoon some of the sweet sauces from the pan over the top.
Then go to confession. Quickly.
From the Pioneer Woman Cooks!

A few members of the family

Bitty's twins - Bill and Hillary. BL ewe and ram lambs (Top)
Maisie's baby -Mutt. SuffolkxBL ewe lamb. (bottom)

Monday, April 21, 2008

It works!

Bottle lamb Bubba wasn't feeling well on Saturday. He had taken his morning bottle fine, but when we came home in the afternoon he was just standing by himself. I tried to see if he wanted a bottle but he didn't - definitely a problem here. So I looked at him a little more closely and realized that his little belly was sticking out and when I picked him up he felt a bit hollow if that makes sense. I looked up bloat in one of my many sheep books and they say it's from going from one diet to another, usually lusher, forage. Well he's only been on milk and just starting to nibble at the grass, but I treated him anyway and it was like a miracle how fast it worked.
1/2 cup water, 1/2 cup cooking oil, 2 Tbls baking soda. Mix thoroughly. For his size, I did 1/8th cup each of the water and cooking oil and 1 teaspoon baking soda. I also added 1/4 tablet (crushed) pepto bismal. Mixed it all and gave about 5 ccs with a syringe. A little toot and a few belches later and he was running with his lamby friends, where he hadn't been moving 1/2 hr before.

Over the mountain

Since we moved to the country, we refer to events as either being on this side of the mountain or over the mountain (aka civilization, DC suburbs, etc.). If we're going to dinner or shopping over the mountain, we have to put on clothes that are appropriate, as in they need to be clean. No muck boots are allowed over the mountain. We would stand out and everyone would be thinking, "They must live in Winchester! Quick get a picture". We also drive our Honda Pilot SUV, instead of the F250 diesel truck. Not to save fuel, but just because the SUV "fits" better over the mountain.

I've come to enjoy doing things on this side of the mountain, just because I can come out of the sheep field with sheep poop on my jeans and shoes, and go straight to Cracker Barrel and order me a Grandpa's Breakfast. Of course if I'm really looking or smelling rough I'll change, but as long as the sheep stains can pass for mud, I'm good to go. Hey, only on this side of the mountain would you be sitting at dinner and have someone announce that we are honored to have the Miss John Deere Virginia in our presence. (actually happened to us 2 weeks ago)

For a long time Andre had a complex about moving to and living in Berryville because he grew up in rural northern Maine and worked long and hard to overcome his feelings of inferiority about being from the country (where they had a school break every fall so the high school kids could pick potatoes for gods sake!). He has two Master's degrees and teaches high school History - over the mountain - and he's slowly getting comfortable in this new life I've dragged him into. He doesn't even look like a country boy. We buy Eddie Bauer and LL Bean clothes - a happy medium in that respect, but I have to admit that Tractor Supply is becoming one of my favorite stores.

I happen to love my life out here in the country and I think that I was meant to be here. Andre isn't as convinced. But on this side of the mountain, I can wake up and not even have to lift my head off my pillow and can watch horses and cows grazing in the fields. I love this life.

Friday, April 18, 2008

No Bush left behind

I won't get into politics much.....but had to put this one out there.
Bush to Pope: 'Thank you, your holiness. Awesome speech.'

Great Job, Bushy. Like totally sick, dude.

13 lambs all in a row

So this is a blog about my life on a little farmette. Hubby and I started out living in the suburbs of DC, got a border collie along the way and now we find ourselves out in the country......raising sheep.
This is our first lambing season. Lambs started popping out 3/18/08 and the last one arrived yesterday. Papa Romey is a very fancy registered Border Leicester. Mama ewe Maisie is a Suffolk and had the first lamb - a beautiful BLxSuffolk speckled face ewe lamb - Mutt. Three BL mamas. Bitty had twins, a ewe and ram lamb. Jazzy had triplets, 2 ewe and 1 ram lamb. Bella had twins, 1 ewe and 1 ram lamb. Jazzy's pregnancy took alot out of her and she had a hard time getting up after lambing. She eventually recovered that day but then rejected one of the babies. So little Bubba is a bottle lamb that I brought in initially to warm up and get going, but he is now in the pasture with the rest of the flock and I bring his bottle there. He has to remember he is a sheep.
The rest of the lambs are from my crazy border cheviot ewes. We lost 2 of these lambs, one was stillborn and one we had to put down yesterday because it seemed to have neurological problems from birth (3 days ago). She never did get up on her feet even with NutriDrench, bottle feeding, BoSe and B Complex shot etc. The rest of the cheviot mamas had 1 ewe lamb and 4 ram lambs! These will hopefully be my worker sheep - for my border collies to work. The pure cheviots themselves are way too flighty to work inexperienced dogs on, so as soon as they wean their babies they are going to market. Might keep one or two for one more breeding season.
Since this is my first blog, I'm not sure what to put into it. I'm going to treat it like a public diary - if it's interesting to me, perhaps my family and friends might like to glimpse occasionally into my crazy life.