Friday, December 18, 2009

Almost Christmas

I am 3 months behind in blogging. It's what happens when you have sheep festivals and dog festivals and church volunteer obligations. And life. Wow, so much has gone on. First, today brought one dear sweet barn cat, Tootsie showed up. She goes AWOL for very long periods of time (longest was about 9 months we figured). She is quite vocal and friendly so while she may actually come home to the barn each night, she's not been there in the mornings or any other time of day. We once caught her at a truck machinery spot about 1/4 mile away. We saw what we THOUGHT was her and turned the car around and it looked like her, but she would not come up to me. That was reassuring in and of itself tho as I knew she was still alive and had not become coyote appetizer. But that was months ago. Each time we drive by that place, we look for her. And this morning she was greeting me in the barn and let me hug and cuddle her for a long time. Just like the prodigal son. Yet as I left the barn to come inside, I realized that it might be the last time I see her. Such is life with barn cats.

Updates: Early October we hit the road in the RV to Sun Valley Idaho for the annual Trailing of the Sheep. It's a sheep festival which celebrates the winter migration of flocks and re-enacts the path that sheep farmers have taken for many decades. Our dog club participates and every other year it is the site of our annual meeting. This year we took Basha and Tesia (4 month old puppies at the time) plus Tiger Lily the rat dog. They did quite well never having traveled like that. Besides the aromatic scents throughout the RV often, traveling with puppies was easier than I would have guessed. They were good girls.

Seeing everyone in Idaho was just great. I also got to hook up with 2 dogs I had previously owned....Cubby and Buddy. Cubby was my dog from a litter of Tatra Mixes born in 2006 by Brandy (owned by Andrew Tokarz) and Quincy my male Tatra. Cubby was the puppy who from day one would lay on his back in my hand, just totally relaxed. When I needed to place Buddy in a good home that could care for him (in 2008) due to hip dysplasia, I sent Cubby along too. It was the right thing to do, they were BFF. I could not separate them. They are now owned by a loving, caring couple in Oregon who take them with to work as therapy dogs. Here's a picture of me and Cubby this October in Idaho. What a delight to see him again.
The trip was also one of the saddest big boy Quincy, died at home while we were away. Unexplained, unexpected. Best guess is that he had a fatal arrythmia, and went very quickly. Still difficult many days realizing he's not here by my side protecting me. I always felt so safe with him. Even with other dogs in the house, it's not the same. I trusted him in a very real way. I have yet to establish that trust of totally guarding me in the same way with the girls left in the house. Here's one of the last pictures we took of him, joining us on our trip to MN for the Twin Cities Polish Festival in August.
Life moves on. Been very busy since that trip to Idaho. We left Tesia with club members when we left Idaho. She had been the puppy I picked out for my new house dog. Good, solid temperament, all around nice girl. Basha came back to me after placing her at 8 weeks. The new owner realized having a rambunctious puppy was not all it's cracked up to be. Living with Basha was easy enough but she knew me and responded well to me. So I decided if our friends wanted one of the puppies, Tesia would be the easiest to adjust and she'd do well anywhere. Wasn't quite so sure with Basha. So that was a bit melancholy leaving Tesia behind but I know she's doing well and keeping those new owners on their toes.

All puppies are large.....I have not weighed my 3 recently but my guess is that they're close to 70 lbs. and very well proportioned. They have good correct coats and each has a slightly different look. Basha is drop dead gorgeous in her face. She's the smallest of my 3 but still a good sized girl. Margita (Gita) is very large and has a blockier face. She's out with Gracie and the ewes. Dunaj Jr. (doon-eye) is also very handsome and lives with the rams out front. He was way too frisky with the small ram lambs from this past year and so putting him out with the big boys solved that problem immediately. Even tho Shetlands are small sheep, the rams are tough enough not to take any bad behavior from a puppy, despite the fact that the puppy is as big as they are.

Over Thanksgiving weekend, my husband built me a hay feeder in the barn, 24 ft. long! This is awesome. I have always fed on the ground and while it was not the best, it was just what I did. But I never liked this method. Now I've got a place where all my ewes can feed up off the ground and stay cleaner and drier. The ones outside (rams in front, one small breeding group out back) still eat off the ground, but that will be a project for 2010. Look at the great job he did in building this in one day. It's very nice. Even the smallest ewe lambs from 2009 just put their front feet in and all can reach. So all but the tiniest of lambs can feed from here. It's got a nice ledge on the bottom also for grain should I want to feed the girls that. Right now I have the larger breeding group of 10 ewes in here. This is all I can do for today. Christmas is fast approaching. Thought I was finished shopping but realized last night I have one more GC to get. We are enjoying watching our 2 grandchildren grow and thrive. They are delights. It just makes you smile to see them. Sorry, I don't post pictures of the kids on the internet. But trust me, they are priceless.
We have so many blessings to be thankful for; our family, our friends, our faith. Here's hoping you all enjoy a very Merry Christmas and a great start to 2010! I'll try to be back soon :)

Monday, September 28, 2009

Basha Baby

Here's a picture of Basha. Basha originally was sent to a new owner, who unfortunately had to return her to me. His life and her life were not in sync and so she came back to me. (This was my oldest son John.) It was, however, very fortunate for me that it worked out this way. I had kept 3 of the puppies from this litter. Dunaj Jr. is living with the ewes, chickens and cats. Margita is (was) living with the ram lambs. She's having too much fun with them and was just moved this morning. Tesia is a house dog. Basha's been here for 2 weeks now. She is absolutely gorgeous altho this photo does not necessarily reflect that. She had a lot of fun out in the mud and I had to take this picture of her. She's been walking a little funny. Today all 4 of these puppies had a visit to the vet for their rabies shots. While there, we did an x-ray of Basha's hip, just to see what was there. Well, much to my delight, they were excellentand also very well angulated! Because she is such a beauty, I have decided to keep her and see how she turns out down the road. I may place Tesia with a club member out in Oregon. My husband and I leave for Idaho soon and while there, we will determine if Tesia goes to her new home or not. But Basha stays with me now. She's been very sweet and wonderful. And who knows, maybe the dog that was returned will turn out to be a wonderful breeding specimen over time.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Labor Day Already

It's been forever since I've posted a thing. Been so busy. Had a great time in MN for the Polish Festival in August. Will post those pictures too but first some updates on the dogs here at GHF. This first guy is Dunaj Jr....named for his father(doon eye). I think he is quite handsome and he is turning out to be very mellow. His hair appears to be a little wavier than his sisters' here but time will tell. He is a very sweet boy. He is out with all the ewes, the chickens and the barn cats. So far, so good!
This is Gita, short for Margita. She is living with the ram lambs. She had TOO much fun one day with a chicken, so this is where she'll stay for a while. She is a bit pushy with them too but they do turn and butt her off, so let's hope that continues and she relaxes even more.
This is Tesia (Tesha) the house dog. She is very mellow, I am surprised by it. She was always a middle of the road girl but has become quite nice. Doing well with overnight sleeping and housebreaking but spends so much time outdoors during the day that we are not really doing the housebreaking routine as in the past with other dogs.
Dear Sweet Bella, the mom. Her figure is back but her coat is thin, poor girl. Yet she is happy and perky and a wonderful dog. Glad she's back to normal.
Now an exciting thing happened this past week. I got back from the mill my first ever processed fleece. I am thrilled with it, yet am not quite sure what I'll do with it all. I have to put it into 4 oz. balls for selling and hopefully I will actually do that soon. And I have some cute sheep ornaments/statues I want to make and that will be fun. I have 15 boxes like this, assorted colors. Very cool. I am determined to take a class this fall or winter to learn to spin and who knows where that will take me down the road. For now this is wonderful to see the final results of what is produced here on the farm .

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

OK, it's been FOREVER it seems that I posted something. We had our huge Corn Fest Party here at the farm on August 8th....a day filled with family, friends, food and fun. How blessed we are to have such wonderful people in our lives. Took us a few days to recover from that.

Then we switched gears and prepared to pack up four dogs and truck up to the Twin Cities for their revival of a Polish Festival. Herm, I and the dogs took the RV and headed north. Quincy travels very well, but the two puppies were another story. We take one of the large crates and mount it above the cab of the Class C RV, perfect fit. They cried in there for about 20 minutes, then settled down very nicely. The little rat dog, dear Tiger Lily, is a perfect angel in her teeny crate and you practically didn't even know she was there.

We had a fabulous time at the festival. Terry (another dog club member) and I, along with 3 of the big white dogs, went to KARE 11 Television studion on Saturday morning for a short but fun spot on TV. What a hoot that was. Here is the video from that morning. It's very short and I'm only the last 30 seconds or so of the tape.
Tried to embed the link but not having luck. Here's the actual link, check out the video on the right.
What a wonderful weekend we had. Our club booth members were terrific, the weather held out for us pretty well and the dogs were the best. We literally had thousands of people come over to see, pet and ask about the dogs. We hope we can go back again.

Here's a shot of Q snoozing in the RV......such is the life, eh!!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Puppies are 8 weeks old!

Here is my big guy, Quincy, the grandfather of our litter of puppies, trying to relax on the dog room floor but Ms. Purple and Teal see to it that he doesn't get much rest. He has been extremely tolerant of the young dogs. While he can be very protective of me, especially behind fences, he's always shown great restraint and patience whenever there has been a puppy around.
Details of the litter: as of today, I am keeping 3 of the puppies. 2 are living with sheep and one will become a house dog/pet. 4 of the puppies have already moved on to their new homes and 2 more leave within the next 2 weeks. That leaves one girl left and I continue to get inquiries regarding her. We shall see where she ends up!
People are always asking if I am sad to see them go. The answer is NO! First reason is that I believe the homes where they've been placed are good ones or I would not have accepted them as new owners. But the work load with so many puppies is very large.....when I walk they are constantly underfoot and they eat like there's no tomorrow. It has been an incredible adventure but it's time they all move on. Also because I am keeping a few, the empty nest is really not. I'm already myself dealing with housebreaking issues and beginning training. It takes a lot of time.
Official Registered Names of the Puppies:
Puppy 1 Yellow girl - Margita (she's here out with sheep) will call her Gita
Puppy 2 Pink girl - Danuta (means Little Deer, she's so tiny) hope to place her in MN
Puppy 3 Blue boy - Marek (call name Emmett) family pet IL
Puppy 4 Purple girl - Tesia (she's my house dog)
Puppy 5 Teal girl - Anka (may go to NY)
Puppy 6 Green boy - Dorek (call name TBD) family pet WI
Puppy 7 Red boy - Dunaj (named for his father, out with sheep here)
Puppy 8 Rose girl - Basha (call name Arcee) family pet IL
Puppy 9 Green girl - Halina (call name TBD) family pet WI
Puppy 10 Black girl - Ania family pet in MT
Here's a big HELLO to niece Katie, who reads my blog. Great seeing you on Saturday :)

Monday, July 20, 2009


Today was Quincy's day to officially meet all the puppies, up close and personal. He can be a bit ferocious across the fence with strangers here at the farm, but he's always been extremely tolerant of all small animals. So he just plopped himself down out back by the tree with them and I took these pictures. Quincy was my first Tatra and will always be my big baby. Here he is with two of them right on top of him practically. They were sniffing his muzzle big time.
Ms. Teal (or Turquoise) could not get enough of him. How funny!
She just lingered the entire time and didn't stray too far from him. I think she will make someone a very nice pet, especially if they already own a dog.
This is little Ms. Teal again, snuggling up to him. Most everybody else could have cared less at this point.
So Sunday the 26th brings temperament testing. By late that night, I should know which puppies will end up with what homes and new owners. Wish us luck, it'll be a long day :)

Saturday 7.18.09

So, they are all eating up near the house and I don't have to always deal with pesty bugs near the back of the yard. They are eating dry kibble now and just drinking water. Yeah! Here's two of the puppies cleaning each other (we may say they're kissing) after eating. This was so sweet.
Here's Bella coming to break up a fight that was getting loud. She's been such a good mother. Still will let all of them nurse, which is very gentle and caring of her.
As she leaves to retreat back to her privacy, sure enough, Ms. Light Green is there trying to climb up and join her. She's quite the outgoing little girl.
Puppies at the gate. You can't have a litter without getting one of these shots with them all clamoring to be set free!

Monday, July 13, 2009

July 13th

So I got out the REAL CAMERA instead of always taking pictures from my phone because it's always in my pocket. Here are some shots from today.
Please don't ask me who is who....but, I am thinking I need the help of someone and I can take some individual shots with labels so there's no mixup :)
On another note: I am culling my flock of Shetlands this year more severely than in the past. And so a buyer is on his way to pick up maybe 8 of them tonight. Some older ewes and some of the lambs. These are going without papers, but it's always a bit sad to see animals you've taken care of leave your home. I wish them a good long life!
These just came in from the friends who came to feed the puppies on Friday. Yeah, I need to take my camera out there and some more close ups. But thanks to Ginny, Kel and Chris, all were taken care of while I was out picking up a ram in MN.
Bella sitting atop her dog house in the adjacent kennel. It's her favorite place to be, besides in the house.

Sunday 7.12.09

Yesterday I wanted to see how they'd do out of one bowl, with softened kibble and then put harder kibble in the other when they were done. They pigged out and clearly they can't be comfortably fed out of one of the bowls, despite the fact that they are huge bowls. Back to splitting it up. They finished one and moved over to the other. The one with spots on her was not bugs or dirt, it was kibble imbedded in her hair. Nice.....but they are great today.

July 11, 2009

These pictures were taken on 7.11.09. I've been very busy lately. But they are eating and growing and doing very well.
Here they are coming towards the house and me, first in front is Ms. Green, as always.
They got almost all the way up before I went inside and then turned around and went back to the shade of the tree and the shade of the kennel.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

4 Weeks Old, Teeth Are In and They're always Hungry

Yesterday puppies were 4 weeks old! Hard to believe how fast the weeks have gone by and all that's happened. They have teeth now, all of them. They all got wormed for the first time yesterday and nobody liked it :) And they all got their nails cut again as they grow so fast. We have now changed over entirely to regular whole milk, still with some baby rice cereal in it and last night at dinner time I switched 1/3 of the solid to pulverized puppy chow so their bodies can adjust to it slowly. Each day I will add a little more of that and soon there will be no more rice cereal only puppy food in the warm milk. Then it's on to larger pieces and less milk, changing over to eventually to no milk and only water, then reducing the water until they're eating just dry food. This all takes place within the next couple of weeks. By 7 weeks, they will be eating only dry food and taking in their own water.
Here they are sill clamoring after the last bits of milk in the bowls.
Then some begin to clean each other, it's very sweet to watch.
Got to get every bit off the face you know!
Just a little cuddling while licking faces.
One dirty wet puppy. Nothing I can do, they are dogs and just roll around in the dirt and food.
These two were sitting right at my feet, doing their grooming.
Then of course, you know what comes next, they poop.
Bella for her part, does clean up some of them but she's getting tired of that job.
And then she's off, ready to get some away time in the adjoining kennel and they fall asleep until next time. They're beginning to romp with each other, pouncing on some toys out there, drinking from the water pan, acting like growing puppies. Life is good.

Friday, July 3, 2009

July 3rd

Well, we got the wooden gate barrier put in today. It's high enough so puppies can't climb up it and for now Bella has some help with old wooden spools as jumping off points. She could clear it if she didn't have her teats hanging down. As time goes on, she'll be able to....and puppies will be able to get on those spools too, but that's a bit down the road yet. She enjoyed some time today in the adjacent kennel, one that she likes. And it wasn't too hot today.

Here she is standing and you can clearly see the 2 puppies reaching up to nurse. So she needs to be able to get away from them at times. Here they all are at the gate after dinner tonight. Everyone is eating out of the bowl very well. We will be done using any of the goat's milk formula tomorrow and totally just using whole milk. Monday they will get wormed as they will be 4 weeks old. Gosh, the time has really gone by fast.
And finally, day is done. She decided to lay down and was swarmed by the continually hungry puppies. She has done a very nice job of mothering. She works hard at licking and cleaning up their faces after eating. All ten of them immerse their faces in the food bowls and are covered in wet. They they climb all over one another getting it on their backs etc. Some are sticky. And they're outside so rolling in the few dirt patches in the dog run. There actually is a fair amount of grass there but of course, they find the one or two bald spots. So be it, they are dogs!