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!!!