Monday, December 31, 2007


Something happened the other morning that surprised me so much that I wasn't sure I really saw what I saw. I decided to repeat the course of events to see if the result was the same (ok, and I got this really cool new camera to play with). The day began as it usually does with Petey greeting me at the barn yard gate.
He was waiting for me to go in the chicken coop to feed and water the chickens. As I opened the door, he slipped inside. I didn't worry about it, knowing that he was just going to steal an egg for his breakfast and I busied myself with my chicken chores.
Just as I was finishing up, I noticed a chicken had stopped eating and puffed herself all up. She seemed to be staring at something so I looked to see what had her all in a kerfluffel. I spotted Pete trying to hide behind the nesting boxes and staring back.
Just then the hen exploded! All the months of being stalked and harassed and having eggs stolen had finally been too much and she couldn't take it anymore. She leaped at Pete and started beating him with her wings and screeching. Pete was astounded and ran for his life. (so fast that the fancy new camera almost didn't catch it)

When I finished laughing I followed Pete's path outside the hen house and found that he had climbed the 7 foot coop walls to sit on top and try to dust off his dignity.

I guess Pete actually won in the end tho because I felt so sorry for the fat barn cat that I didn't want him to miss his breakfast. So I cracked the egg open for him myself.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

It has begun...

Look what Scott found at 4 AM this morning...
I know someone is going to ask what breed they are: They are purebred Sulfolky-Dorsetish kinda things.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Report Card

Kit has been with us almost three weeks now and has passed all her tests. She takes her job very seriously and definitely considers the sheep hers. She tolerates our use of them but supervises all activities. If you've had a guardian dog before then her behavior will be nothing new, but I am fascinated by the duty that she feels is necessary. During the day, she will cat nap periodically but at night she is on guard.
She feels her sheep are safest when they are near the barn and the field is dangerous territory. If we take a few out to work with the dogs, she will go ahead of us, wagging her tail and stand on the far side of the sheep protecting them from lurking coyotes but not getting in the way of our training.
She would have made a good pre-school crossing guard. If the sheep get wandering about and pass by the field, Kit will stand in the break in the fence and keep the coyote traffic from running over her sheep. Lambing starts very soon. The sheep are very comfortable with Kit around and I rest easy knowing that she has it all under control.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas from all the critters at
Alta Pete Stockdogs

and don't think for a minute that this was an easy picture to take!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

He's Making a List

I got word that our local Humane Center was going to be visited by Santa this year and that he was going to pose for pictures with the dogs and cats in our area. I suggested to Skid that perhaps he should take advantage of this opportunity to talk to Santa about changing his status on the naughty list. My feeling was that Skid's history of getting into the trash, stealing Scott's cookies and that indiscretion he committed in the camper, could be forgiven with a favorable visit. We practiced posing in front of the Christmas tree and then decided that Lad should come along as an example since his name was permanently engraved on the nice list.

Since I didn't think Santa would be impressed by two stinky farm dogs, the day before the visit the boys got a bath.
When the day arrived, Skid and Lad eagerly entered the Humane Society and greeted all there. Then it was time to go into the back room and meet Santa. We walked in and while Skid was busy watching and trying to decide if it was a good Santa or a bad Santa, the helper walked up behind him, unhooked his leash and tried to pick him up. Skid was surprised and screamed and flipped over on his back and threatened with his teeth. After a scolding, and then the bribe of a cookie, he followed Laddie's good form and sat with Santa for his picture. On the way home, I told Skid it was worth a try but I'm afraid that after trying to bite Santa's helper, he should just resign himself to that lump of coal and try it again next year.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Say What?

We got some weather last night. Up until this morning, we've had alot of cold, but not alot of snow. So I went out to catch the animal's reactions:

The sheep generally agree, "We don't like it, but we gotta eat."

The chickens protest, "What the...!"

Kit feels, "It's all part of the job."

And Skid says "WOOO HOOOO!"

Friday, December 7, 2007

Contestant number one

Well, we are hoping there is no contestant number two needed. We need a guardian animal. For almost 5 years our sheep have been relatively unmolested by the local coyotes, but this year groups of the marauding predators have been attacking and eating our defenceless sheep. We have ruled out using a donkey because they don't differentiate between working border collies and dangerous coyotes so our other choices are a llama or a guardian dog. We decided on a dog and if she works out, our sheep will have their needed protection just in time for lambing. So Kit, come on down. This is your lucky day! Kit is a female working Akbash who was picked out for us by a friend who is familiar with our needs.

Our guardian dog needs to be friendly with people and able to be handled, but prefer the company of her sheep to humans. She needs to be alert to the threat of coyotes but passive to the working border collies. Most important, she needs to know that it would be bad to eat chickens, ducks, cats and of course, little dogs. We will give Kit a probationary month and will work with her to understand the rules.

Right now, our sheep are confused.
They can't understand why we keep closing them in with this dog. They only understand that if a dog walks up to you, you walk away. Until Kit and the sheep are bonded, we will be keeping them in small pastures and in the barn. We are keeping our fingers crossed.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Winter Beauty

We are having our first cold snap of the season. It's really a minor one (by Canadian standards), but since we were enjoying some unseasonably warm weather, everyone is whining about the change. Leaving the house is no fun.

Of course, chores and training must continue, but I am still a
California girl so I take the proper clothing precautions.

Sometimes the cold creates the most beautiful scenery. Last night we had a hoar frost. Don't know what creates it except that the air feels wet when it happens . When we wake up everything sparkles and there are crystals everwhere. Even the ugliest trees are transformed.
As pretty as this is, I believe any picture can be improved by the addition of a dog (especially one of my dogs). Hemp agreed to pose for me, thereby bringing the beauty up a few notches. Salem, my house cat, thinks it's a funny game to sneak outside when I am holding the door open for the dogs. If you stop him from escaping, he howls and catterwalls all through the house until you give up and let him out. This time, I opened the door for him to go out and he couldn't believe his good luck. There it was, a clear avenue of escape! He rushed to the door and then stopped dead in his tracks. And that was as far as he got.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Minority Report?

Skid has been feeling a little like Tom Cruise lately. Every time someone meets him they say "Oh, you're so much shorter in person!" People see his picture on this blog and can't tell his height. At least 3 people last week commented on it and it's starting to give him a complex. I thought that maybe, if I give people some size references, it would eliminate those awkward meetings.

To start with, he's NOT tall enough to steal food off the kitchen counter.

He's also not tall enough to see out the window without the aid of the kitchen table.
He is a very good size for navigating on the center console of the truck.

And the most important thing is that he's the perfect size for cuddling.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving (USA)

Since Scott is usually away doing clinics during the Canadian Thanksgiving, we have taken to having a mini celebration on the US Thanksgiving. Of course, I will involve the animals (picture Scott rolling his eyes) and I've let them get an early start. I can't offer them pumpkin pie but the pumpkin is no problem.

My dog Hemp is very pleased with his share. (He'll probably pay for that later)

And the sheep got downright rowdy with excitement over their portion.

But the chickens weren't impressed even when I cut it open for them.They heard that we were eating a chicken instead of a turkey and refuse to participate. I told them it was no one they knew.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Cat up a tree

I'm afraid Pete has been a little spoiled. While we were on our Fall trip, Petey managed to persuade our house sitter to feed him extras at the house. Now I'm afraid Pete has become like a guardian dog who was pet and spoiled too much. He spends more time at the house than he does in the barn yard. The mice still aren't getting into the grain, but Cali may be taking up the slack. Last night, Petey found himself the proverbial cat up a tree.
Hmm, this picture doesn't look too bad. Perhaps I should explain that I was doing the evening free run of the dogs and then show you the whole picture...

Now, I should let you know that after the mad scramble to the top, Pete was quite happy and was purring and scratching his cheeks on the wood post. He wasn't the least bit afraid. I was but I didn't know he was hanging out around the house or I wouldn't have let the dogs out. It did not teach him a lesson in the least. He was back out watching me walk dogs and commenting again this morning. This time, however, he stayed just out of reach on the other side of the fence.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Farm Labor

It's time to give the true workers of Alta-Pete Farm their due. The sheep work harder than anyone on this place. They train all the customer dogs plus all our kennel dogs and I rarely hear them complain.

Some of the sheep are keepers who will never be sold. We don't usually name our sheep but our two favorites are Blue Tag (aka Grandma) and the Cocker Spaniel. Blue Tag is 16 yrs old and well retired from work. Her new job is to stay with the lambs when they are weaned and keep them calm. She's a purebred Karakul and is the last of a set of 6 that helped train a USBCHA champion, a couple of reserve Champions and some Western Canadian Champions. We are hoping her granddaughter, the Cocker Spaniel, (she looked like one as a baby), will lamb this year. Karakuls are a very old rare breed and we've seen Blue Tag whispering the secrets of their breed to the Cocker Spaniel. We believe the secrets have something to do with run like hell every time you see a dog, and keep your head down in the shed so they can't cut you out.

Our sheep are a motley crew that have some Karakul, Katahdin, Suffok and Dorset crossed in. Our two main rams are young but they have convinced me that they are up to the task. One is a Dorset cross and the other is an old style Suffolk. I'm hoping that all their wining and dining of the women will pay off as we have a small flock this year and could use a boost by a good lamb crop.

The newest upstart is our Dorset/Katahdin ram lamb. He was born last year and promised me that he'd get to work right away and improve the quality of our meat lambs. I guess we'll see how things go when the lambs start being born in February.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

A NICE DAY as told by Skid

With winter fast approaching, I wanted to mark the passing of warm weather - Skid said he had some thoughts on it so I decided to let him relate his idea of a perfect day...
First, find a dead gopher. Old and dried up will do if you can't find a fresh one.
Next, without putting it down, dig a hole.
Then, gently place your prize down in the hole. The last thing to do is to cover it up. This is very important so that no one can find it but you.
If you have time left over, and you haven't been called back to the house, sneak in a little swim and harrass the duck.