Tuesday, June 11, 2013

2013 Graduation

Our sons, Clarence Asa and Donald Isaac, graduated from high school on June 1.  We are so very proud of them!
Here they are with Clancy and me.  Graduation ceremony day was cold and raining, so we didn't get many photos taken.  (It was too crowded inside the building to try to take pics.)
My brother's son, Michael, also graduated from Bemidji.  I just love this picture of the three guys together!
We had the grad open house for the boys this past Saturday at our church.  The weather was perfect and we had a lot of fun.  But I was so busy visiting folks that I only had time to snap one 'posed' picture of the boys with the special cake our friend Linda made just for them...
A separate cake that they didn't have to share with anyone else on their special day was their one request for the grad party.  :)
Congratulations Isaac and Asa!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Megan's New Family

Megan's new family was gracious enough to pose for a quick snapshot on the day she went to live with them.  I hope everyone can see how happy Meg looks.  She barely had time for the camera because she was so busy investigating the barn and pasture...and lovin' on the grandkids.
Thank you so much to the "C" family.  I liked you all the minute we met and I know deep in my heart that you will be wonderful for Meg.
Good Luck and God Bless!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Difficult Decisions

About a month ago a local shepherd contacted me to ask if I was willing to sell 5-10 breeding ewes.  The conversation came out of the blue but I couldn't deny that I had been thinking of selling my flock for a while.  After several discussions I agreed to sell my flock as a whole. 
This past Sunday my entire flock of 11 Shetland ewes left to live on a farm in Solway, MN.  I am grateful for the opportunity to have my flock sell as a unit.  I know it will be less stressful on them to have their flock-mates by their side as they get used to new surroundings.  And beyond making the decision to part with them, selling to a single person was so much easier than advertising and dealing with multiple buyers over the course of many months.
I retained my entire wool clip and will be sending it off for processing soon.  That should give me a great deal of wool to needle felt and spin.  And I always know some excellent farms to buy extra Shetland colors from if I need them.
I also am keeping all of my electronet, energizers, and sheep coats.  Clancy and I both agree that our farm is very well situated to sheep farming.  I know my Shetlands were happy here.  And we plan to reinvest in another flock someday.
But in the meantime, I am grateful to have this extra space in my life to adjust to my family's busy schedule.  I will be able to focus on finishing our house and investing in our grounds.  I can do more artwork.  And I can travel with Clancy and the boys.
I never did fence in the girls this spring.  I would lock them into electronet at 9pm every evening...letting them out at 6am every morning.  But they were free ranging up until the new owner took them away.  I managed to snap these photos on their last morning here.
I admit my eye is constantly looking for them out the window.  Since they were never locked up I had to keep tabs on them to make sure they didn't wander too far from home.  I still listen for them.  I still expect to see them across the pasture or in the murky depths of the forest surrounding our home. 
I do miss them.
But I am also deeply content and I know I made the right decision for my family by giving up shepherding for a while.
Another family member that left Boston Lake this past Sunday was Megan. 
Because of work and travel, she had to spend most of her days in her kennel and crate.  For the past several months I just felt so guilty about her reduced lifestyle and I sought a new home for her.
After many interviews with nice folks, we met a lovely couple with a large farm that asked to be her new family.  Meg fell in love with them and their pastured pigs, flock of free-ranging chickens, spacious barn complete with resident cats, and several grandchildren of all ages.
During our second visit to this lovely farm, Meg would not leave the side of the little grandkids that were petting her when she saw me climb into my van to leave.  It was like she said, "You go.  I have work to do here."  She was giving her full attention to her new family as I drove out of their yard.
I do miss Meg, too.
But I couldn't be more happy for her and her new family.
And so I feel grateful to have such a deep contentment about Megan, too.
Through all of these huge changes, I prayed.  As my aunt reminded me the other day, God promises to care about everything that concerns us.  Finding happy, safe homes for my sheep and Megan was something I was so worried about.  God answered my prayers in ways even more wonderful than I could have hoped.
I wish my dear sheep and my precious Meg long happy lives with their new families.
And I wish for myself the stamina and self-confidence to make wise use of the open space in this new chapter of my life. 

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Shearing 2013

The ice just left Boston Lake last evening.
It was freezing cold. 
New snow on the ground this morning.
But shearing is Finished. 
And I am so grateful!
All the ewes looked good...even the timid young girls and my 'narrow Nhu.'
The girls have had their CD & T shots, their hooves trimmed, and been sheared now.
Here are a few 'after' photos...

Friday, May 10, 2013

Late Spring Pasture

There is not much green about yet...
but the ewes love nothing better than roaming far and wide in search of nibbles.
Finally got the girls out on pasture Monday (5/6/13).  That is really LATE!  But we had snow covering everything right up till then.  We still have ice on the lake and Opener is tomorrow.  Good luck to the fisherman trying to find open water.
Here are a couple of pictures of the sheep enjoying their freedom...



Friday, April 19, 2013

Doll For Miss 'E'

I felt inspired to make a felted doll for my young friend, Miss E.
First I made the wire armature.
The citrus is a California Mandarin... (tiny orange)
Then I wrapped Shetland wool around the wire and needle felted it in place.

Next I added hair and I sewed a white cotton dress to serve as her base layer...as in nightgown, shift, or plain white dress.

The miniature kitten, which is suppose to approximately resemble Miss E's pet kitten, Bootsie, was actually the last thing to be made.  But it insisted on posing with it's owner.  :)
Here is a close up of the kitten.  It is 1.5 x 1 inch.  Each pupil for each eye only took two individual black wool fibers.  TINY!

Miss E's doll also needed some pretty clothes and a few animals to roam around her yard.  So I started making felted dresses and capes.  They are adorned with tiny ribbons, needle felting, string, and tiny brads and flowers. 
Pink fringe dress with flower belt. 
Felted blue/green dress with yellow ribbon.
Lavender dress with purple felting and ribbon.
Miniature felted rabbit.  (didn't photograph well)
Pink cape with flower belt.
Brown linen & felted (fur trimmed) cape.
Simple purple cape with black brad button.
Mystery poultry.  Is it a chicken?  Is it a duck?  All I know is that it is a bird of some kind and it belongs to Miss E's doll.  :)
Purple dress with felted dots and rick-rack belt.
Kitten miniature.
There were a few more clothes in other colors based on these simple patterns.  And I'm including lots of ribbons and brads for Miss E to mix and match with her doll clothes.
I hope she has fun!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

So, So Busy

I can't even begin to relay all that has transpired since last fall.  Suffice to say, I have been BUSY.  The kind of busy where I'm working on big projects....like planning a grad party for my sons, helping them with their college entrance applications & financial aid, scanning and uploading old family photos to a family-specific blog, a large mailing project for our church, soccer tournament weekends for our youngest son, looking for a good job....and on and on.
And what about the animals of Boston Lake Farm? 
They are all doing just fine.  But I admit I haven't had much time to photograph them.  I hope to set a shearing date for early May.  But we just got 6 new inches of white stuff in the last 48 hours...on top of the mountains of snow we already have... spring seems very, VERY far away.  Lleulu gets spayed this Friday.  Hopefully that goes well for her.  I will certainly be relieved to avoid unwanted litters of pups.
Even though our main floor is currently being painted...and therefor is in great disarray...I'm still trying to do a little needle felting when I can.  I don't have the space, time, or power of concentration to work on my bird orders (for that I apologize!) but I am plucking away at a tiny doll for a little friend.  I hope it turns out well.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Adopting Adult LGD's

Sherry from Spinner's End asked for advice about bringing in two adult LGD's to an already established farm with pet dogs on site.  I'll do my best to write down some tips here.  But feel free to call me, Sherry, using my contact page info.  I'd be happy to talk to you about the subject if you have questions I don't cover here.
My first advice to anyone thinking of adopting adult LGD's to do LGD work on an established farm is: GO FOR IT!
It has been my experience that a working LGD with good temperament and good behavior will be a good LGD at a new farm, regardless of the species being protected, as long as the transition period safely integrates the new dog into the 'pack' at it's new home.
I've adopted three adult LGD's.  Two of them stayed at my farm and were trusted, valued, working dogs.  The third was re homed to a separate farm where he was no longer dominated by his sibling and he was able to succeed in his job.
Below are photos with captions that display a few 'moments' in the life of the 'transition period' and introduce the adult LGD's that I have worked with:
Greta (indoor/outdoor pet) getting to know Shachah (6 yr. old LGD) during some off-leash, supervised play-time.
Sibling LGD's, Capone (in kennel) and Pooja (drinking).  Both were quite matted when they came to live with us.  It took several grooming sessions to get them cleaned up.  Pooja was finished in this pic, but I still had more to clip on Capone's back end.

Siblings Pooja and Capone, groomed and unleashed.  Capone was eventually placed at a separate farm because the "sibling unit" wanted to establish other territory rather than get along with my current LGD, Shachah.  Once Pooja was spayed and separated from her brother, whom she was obsessed with dominating, she wanted to become part of Shachah's 'pack' and those two dogs worked as an excellent team.
As I said above, it is my experience that a good LGD can be a good LGD at a new and different farm if the dog has to be re homed.  Of course, I have some disclaimers to mention: I've only worked with three adopted adult LGD's.  All my LGD's have been Great Pyrs.  I'm not an expert.  I'm not responsible for someone else's failed or successful experience, take my advice with a grain of salt, etc, etc, etc.
But, for what it is worth and for those that care to read more, I have done a lot of reading and had some small experience with this, and what I've found is...
The published advice on this subject is often overly apprehensive, negative and/or complicated.  The dogs tend to be more flexible than we give them credit for.  They have a stronger instinct to belong to a flock/pack than we expect.  One can't make an LGD accept limits that it doesn't feel are necessary.  And it is the farmer's responsibility to discover the dog's tendencies and create an environment that the dog can thrive in.
Bringing in a single LGD was quite easy.  We kept Shachah on the leash or in the kennel for about a week.  By day two he started digging his way out.  We supervised his introductions to our pet indoor/outdoor dogs.  First on a leash.  Then just in person.  We took him on long leashed walks around our property.  After a few days it was clear Shachah was desparate to be out of the small kennel, so we put him in the electronet with the sheep.  We continued the leashed walks.  Shachah started digging his way out of the sheep pasture.  Once, while we were moving electronet, Shachah went on an unleashed walk.  He simply walked around the farm as though it were his own thinking FINALLY those silly people weren't preventing him from doing his job.  He came back to the sheep.  We decided he probably wasn't going to run away.  So we left him out and from that moment on he was the BEST LGD I could have ever asked for.
Bringing in a pair of LGD's, with a working LGD already on site, proved to be much harder.  First, the pair were siblings that had never been separated.  And the female was still intact at the age of 5.  I'm not a dog whisperer.  But sibling canines, left to their own devices like many LGD's are in the course of their work, can become fixated on each other.  Or attached, or one will be very dominant.  Let's just say, they MIGHT have sibling ISSUES.  I only learned about these sibling tendencies after we came up with the solution of re homing the one sibling.  But my advice is just to be on the lookout for issues.
The issue we had with Pooja and Capone was that they considered themselves a complete unit that did not have a compelling reason to integrate into the dog pack we had at our farm.  We had a neutered male LGD (Shachah) and two spayed female pet dogs (border collie & chow)  The sibling pair got on well with the pet dogs but NOT Shachah.  Shachah felt no need to share his flock or farm with two new dogs. 
We were doing all the same things with the new pair that we had done with Shachah.  But we quickly discovered that if both sibs were out of the kennel two things were going to happen.  1. They would gang up on Shachah to try to establish alpha position.  (Yes, we broke up dog fights between 3 GP's.  Luckily for us, all dogs were very respectful of people and we never got hurt.  I might have only survived because I'm so dang stubborn and bossy...and my dogs know it...but I don't recommend anyone diving into dog fights like that.)  2. The sibling pair would take off in an effort to establish a new territory separate from Shachah.  (We brought them home from our neighbor's farm 2 miles away several times.)
The other thing we realized was that some of the negative behavior was due to Pooja being intact.  She would not engage in fighting Shachah, but would attack her brother and force him into going after Shachah (sibling domination issue!).  Once Capone was attacking Shach, Pooja would dive in to help out.
None of these problems occured when one of the sibs was free and the other was locked in the kennel.  The free sibling wouldn't leave the other behind, or attack Shac.  However, the sibling in the kennel would be having a meltdown the entire time the other dog was out.
For these reasons, we decided to re home the neutered male sibling, and keep the female, but get her fixed asap.  Our reasons for choosing Pooja over Capone were these: 1. Capone slobbered more than any dog I've ever met and I really didn't like that.  2. I had read that most LGD's tend to work best in male/female pairs.  We already had Shach as our male and I had no intention of re homing him.
Capone quickly found a home and his new owners claimed he really came into his own without his sister dictating his every move.  As soon as he was gone, we started from the beginning with Pooja.  She was kenneled or leashed.  We got her fixed immediately.  And we took all the same introduction measures that we did when we first brought home Shach.  It was truly amazing how Pooja, not having her brother to focus on, quickly indicated to all our other dogs that she wanted to be accepted into the pack.  Shach was willing to accept her presence with her new attitude.  In just a short while she was allowed to roam freely.  Within just a couple of months we were able to witness Pooja and Shach really work as a team against predators.
I would not expect that much trouble bringing in two LGD's unless there is already a working LGD on site.
Well, I think I've run out of steam on this subject.  If anyone has questions, post them in comments and I'll do my best to answer them.
Best of luck, Sherry, if you decide to take the new LGD's home! 

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Pup Needs Home

A friend of mine rescued a tiny pup alongside a road in the Cass Lake area.  Her work schedule isn't going to allow her to keep it herself.  She is looking for a good home to place this little guy in.
The pup is male, approximately 8-12 weeks old, and perhaps a shepherd/chow mix.  He is tan with a black mask.
 Please pass around the info about this dog. 
 Call Kim at 218-556-1027 if you want photos or you can give him a home.
Thanks for looking.