The following is a log of all the happenings on and off the ranch in Eastern Oregon. Please note I have created an archive of my old entries: PLEASE CLICK HERE TO READ THEM.
- It is summer again. The sheep are up on the Mountain range and the lambs are getting fat. We have decided to start offering on-ranch, live lamb sales again. With the kids out of school for the summer, I thought it would be a good use of our time to start up with direct marketing once again. So, if you want to buy 1 or 1000 lambs, please contact me. firstname.lastname@example.org or 541 215 9109 CLICK HERE to view the live lamb ordering form.
- From the ASI email,
GIPSA Lamb Report Released
On Dec. 20, the United States Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration's (GIPSA) Packers and Stockyards Program (P&SP) released its report, "U.S. Lamb Market in 2010, 2011 and 2012." The P&SP initiated an investigation of the lamb market on Oct. 18, 2012, after eight U.S. Senators requested an investigation in a joint letter to the Secretary of Agriculture's office. One U.S. Representative also requested the investigation in a separate letter. The letters addressed a broad range of issues in the lamb market, but a large swing in prices was at the root of the complaints.
To investigate the concerns, P&SP interviewed over 45 people involved in the sheep and lamb market, including sheep and lamb producers, dealers, livestock auction managers, lamb feeders, packers, market analysts and federal regulators. The P&SP investigation found that many market factors interacted to cause the sharp increase and subsequent decrease in lamb prices that occurred during 2010, 2011 and 2012.
The rising cost of imported lamb was likely the most important factor. A consensus of the people interviewed in the investigation attributed the start of the increase in prices to a world-wide shortage of lamb. Reduced lamb imports raised imported prices, which in turn led to a substitute away from imported lamb to domestic lamb and hence, put pressure on domestic lamb price.
The report also states that "prices for lamb eventually reached such high levels that consumers curtailed the amount of lamb they purchased." This caused a market 'currentness' problem with lambs getting "larger, fatter and older" and the "size of lambs affected demand because the cuts were larger than consumers preferred."
P&SP found no evident of price manipulation due to the livestock price risk insurance that USDA's Risk Management Agency and the American Sheep Industry Association sponsor.
The full report can be viewed at www.gipsa.usda.gov/Publications/psp/36881_1_0_LambInvestigationPublicReport12202013.pdf.
- R-CALF responds: R-CALF USA Sheep Committee Chair Bill Kluck said his group was already well aware that unlimited imports were causing severe damage to the United States' commercial sheep industry, but is deeply disappointed that USDA failed to acknowledge ongoing problems in the sheep market caused by meatpacker market power.
Kluck said that like many of GIPSA's previous reports, this one also overlooks important elements of the competitive process in the sheep packing industry. Referencing the report's claim that the price packers pay for lambs sold under a formula contract is a more "representative measure of fed lamb prices than negotiated prices," Kluck said GIPSA has completely missed the mark.
"GIPSA ignores the fact that the sheep industry's shrinking cash market is the industry's only competition-based price discovery market. It also ignores the fact that meatpackers are causing that price discovery market to shrink by shifting more lambs into their non-competitive formula arrangements and by increasing their inventories of packer-owned lambs," Kluck said.
"GIPSA's report is absolutely silent on the price impacts caused by the meatpackers' ongoing efforts to shrink our price discovery market," he added.
"GIPSA's preference for using formula prices that are only indirectly tied to a competitive market price demonstrates that GIPSA has little interest in protecting competitive markets for independent sheep producers and is far more interested in defending its meatpacker allies," Kluck commented.
Kluck said that another serious problem with the report is that GIPSA apparently relies only on statements by meatpackers to conclude that retailers were having difficulty selling lamb when lamb prices were increasing prior to mid-2011.
"Another key reason why GIPSA could not find evidence of manipulation was based on price reactions by retailers, yet the report indicates that not a single retailer was interviewed during the investigation," Kluck concluded.
- We got the last of our ewes off the Mountain Allotment today. I will head back up there on Monday to look for a few strays. Not the best summer, kind of dry, that is why we are moving the sheep off about three weeks early. All in all it was average.
- From ASI: Why Woolen Bedding is the Best Way to get a Good Night's Sleep
People who struggle to sleep should consider switching to woolen bedding, new research suggests. Wool fibers absorb moisture, including sweat, making it easier for the body to regulate its temperature. This leads to a more comfortable night's sleep.
On average, people sweat a liter of water every night and this cannot be absorbed by the synthetic materials often used to make bedding. As a result, people using these bedding materials are more likely to find themselves uncomfortably hot.
Researchers at the University of Sydney asked eight volunteers to sleep in woolen bedding, cotton bedding and synthetic bedding at three different temperatures. They discovered that, particularly when the bedroom was warmer, people slept for longer and more deeply when using woolen bedding.
Reprinted in part from MailOnline
- Reducing Labor at Lambing Time Ė Webinar on Oct. 8th
As part of the American Sheep Industry Associationís Grow Our Flock initiative, a webinar entitled Reducing Labor at Lambing Time will be offered on Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2013 at 7 p.m. EDT.
Presenters for the webinar are Philip Berg and Mike Caskey of the Pipestone Lamb and Wool Program and the host is Jay Parsons, Ph.D., Colorado State University and Optimal Ag. The program will discuss labor-saving watering, feeding and bedding systems and present layouts of warm lambing barns and sheep flow options.
Interested individuals may register in advance by going online to: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/7717993636852468993.
- We are still lambing. We are down to the last 100 ewes. The cull truck is coming today.
- Skye and I will be on the panel for a web discussion regarding Mentoring: Click this link to Reg. and join on Tues: Nov. 13th 5pm PST. https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/8786290122493574656
Join the sheep industry for its next webinar on Tuesday, Nov. 13, at 6 p.m. MST. The webinar, Capitalizing on the Mutual Benefits of a Mentoring Relationship, is the second session being offered by the American Sheep Industry Association (ASI) in conjunction with its Rebuild the Sheep Industry initiative.
Mentoring is a partnership in two-way learning. Having a quality relationship with a good mentor can be the key to success for a new producer but it can also be a very rewarding experience for the mentor. In this presentation, the guidelines for forming, maintaining and completing a good mentoring relationship will be discussed.
Jay Parson, Ph.D., Colorado State University and Optimal Ag Consulting, Inc., will be the presenter and will be joined by special guests and sheep producers Skye Krebs (Ore.), Eric Harlow (Ore.), Jennifer Tucker (Colo.) and Cody Halligan (Neb.). These producers will share their mentoring relationship experiences as well as entertain questions from the audience.
To register, go to https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/8786290122493574656. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.
- Trespassing: We moved our band of sheep to the second part of this Mountain allotment yesterday morning.
This is Private Property and the road is closed with a HUGE, IRON, LOCKED, GATE. Most of us would not think to make a path around the gate so we could ride/drive our ATVs, etc. Well I went to tent camp today and we had about 200 sheep and three LPDs up by the entry to this allotment. I went looking for the herder.
As I opened the HUGE, IRON, LOCKED, GATE, here comes a gang of about 12 ATVs and Side-by-sides. I stopped the first one and ask what he thought the locked gate meant. He said he had been coming there for years and there was a trail made around the gate so it was OK, "besides, this is public land" I said "NOPE" and I would contact the sheriff if he wanted to debate it. He left with his buddies.
They were pushing my sheep up the road with their ATVs, because they couldn't get around them. That is why we had 200 ewes/lambs sorted off and on top. Many of those ewes had huge bags so I know they got pushed off their lambs, etc.
- We moved the lambs off to the grass circles. We didn't have much loss this summer. With 7 LGDs with one band of sheep, the dogs did a great job keeping the sheep safe.
- We are starting to think about lambing again. We turned out the bucks after removing the lambs.
- With hay prices so high, we are looking into TMR (total mixed ration) equipment. If we could mix some lesser quality feeds into our high-quality, high-priced feed we may be able to save a little money in the long run. We can also look into feeding other inputs that will add to our ration without increasing our feed costs. This is new territory for me so I am doing a lot of asking others, and internet research. We have our sheep on feed for only a few weeks of the year. This means we have to be careful about our spending on equipment.
- We got all the sheep moved to our other summer allotment. We still had feed on the Elbow Creek but we needed to get them moved so they could finish the summer on the Looking Glass allotment. Special thanks to Paul, Kip and Cameron for your help.
- I wanted to thank Denise Wall for printing one of our sheep trailing photos. I arrived Framed and ready to hang. It was printed on paper that makes it look like a painting. Very cool and looks great in our den. Check them out. www.stilhope.com
- We are hauling sheep to the other Mountain Allotment on Sat. Contact me if you want to come out and help. Eric 541 215 9109 or email@example.com
- It looks like we will be shearing rams on Saturday.
- I have traded Levi back his Kelpie and we now have my Dad's dog back. She is still a handful. I did get the Kelpie to start thinking on his outrun but really needed more time with him to get him to widen out on his own. He is a nice little dog just doesn't have the natural outrun some Kelpies have. I have seen the same trait in a few Border Collies but usually the Border Collies I am exposed to have natural outruns. In fact most Kelpies I have owned are natural outrunners as well. Like most of these things I think it is genetic.
- We got the sheep turned out onto a new mountain allotment on June 3rd. I had to get permission from another private landowner to start on an ajoining allotment. When our range manager said it was OK, we could then turn out onto our usual allotment. It was an extra step for a few days feed but we really needed to get our sheep out on some good feed. They were just about all out of feed down on the spring range.
- I recently traded dogs with my friend Leavi (from Wallowa, OR) for the summer. Actually, the dog I traded belongs to my father. She is a yearling BC female I got him as a puppy from Cameron Gillespie. I worked her a couple time on sheep during lambing and she has a lot of natural talent. This is my father's first BC and so she was taking advantage of him a bit. I think sending her to Leavi and his wife, Carrie they will be able to get her started in a school type environment. I think it will be less stressful for her and my father. The dog I got from Leavi is a yearling Kelpie. He needs help on widen out his outrun. He is a very sweet dog and should be fun to have for the summer. So, I guess I am back into Kelpies now.
- All of the puppies from Gales last litter are sold accept one male. I just may keep him for myself.
- We got two bands of sheep hauled to the mountains for Krebs Sheep Co. It was two days of hauling in a row.
- Somebody gave us a DVD for "Shaun the Sheep" for Ethan. It is fun to watch, etc. The question is why do those sheep have tails? They are wool sheep. Is it taboo to dock tails in the UK or does this cartoon maker just have it wrong?
- We have 4 puppies left from the Gale/Greg litter. These are reg. ABCA Border Collie puppies. Will be very strong but sensible. Both parents are working on my ranch in Eastern Oregon. Both parents are natural out-runners and work sheep or cattle as needed. Both work the head and heel. $250ea. includes reg. and first shots. EMAIL ME or call Eric 541 215 9109
- Lana Mockler Rowley has a new blog. CLICK HERE to check it out.
- As of today the Wolves in the Northwest states have been taken off the Endangered Species List. CLICK HERE The wolf issue is a huge concern to those of us who depend on livestock for our livelihoods. It took an act of Congress to cut through all the environmentalist lawsuits. The wolf was suppose to be delisted long ago when they reached the targeted number of animals. We now have to see what happens with the state of Oregon's wolf plan.
- We are looking for a couple volunteers to help us Mark this last small bunch of lambs. It should only can a few hours. Contact me if you are interested in helping. Would be on Sat. 4-23-11 starting around 10am in Milton Freewater, OR Eric 541 215 9109
- Happy Birthday to my beloved wife Katie.
- It seems Sue McDonald is going to come down for the LGD Frank. They have a small place up near Seattle, WA. He will like it there. I have been to their Sheepdog Trial many times in the past.
- "Young Dogs, Old Dogs, Many Dumb Dogs... Please Drive Slow." We have lost two excellent LGDs to cars this lambing season. We have never lost any dogs to cars before. I just don't believe they cannot see the sheep in the pasture and therefore slow down just a little bit. In both cases they just left the dog to die in pain and shock. My neighbor had to call me both times to drive up to the road to help the dogs.
- I have a 8yo retiring Border Collie to find a small ranch for him. He is very gentle with sheep and people (children). Really needs a buddy. Loves to ride in the truck, never barks. Contact me if you are interested.
- We have our first band turned out onto pasture in Prescott, WA. It feels good to finally get them off the haystack and onto pasture. The grass is very good up there. The herding is easy so Guillermo is happy to be out of the lambing camp and on the range. He has Greg, Pepe, Buck and Dose with him. That is plenty of dog-power for that job. He really doesn't need any dogs.
- The ewes are home in Touchet, WA now. I waited as long as I dared before bring them back to small acreage around Touchet. We will have to work hard to keep the feed up to them. They are burning through 40 acres in 2-3 days.
- The women who asked me to keep wool back for her, please call me 541 215 9109, I lost your contact info. I have 24 fleeces sorted and bagged for you. It is back at my house now.
- Shearing went well. I want to thank Tom for coming out to help. Of course after we sheared a storm moved in and it got cold. The ewes are in really good condition so they are doing fine. As long as we keep the feed up to them they will do well.
- We did lose the entire flock the night of the big storm. They pushed off the circle and the wind blew them down into a cannon. They then followed the cannon until they found a place out of the wind and settled down for the night. The herder called me and said the sheep were gone. I headed up north with a load of alfalfa for them. I got there that night, the herder and intern had been looking all day. I kept looking that night. We got up the next morning and head out. I found them before lunch time about 15 miles away from where the circle was. I was just about to give up and get a plane to fly me around to look for them. Then I turned down one last cannon road and there the sheep were. Grazing a stubble feed and bedding down in sage brush. We were lucky all the ewes were their and doing OK. Needless to say it was a long couple days of worry for me.
- I am selling a ram's skull that I have had at the lambing camp for a couple years. I used the compost pile to strip it and it bleach in the sun all summer. It is really cool. I have several I have been working on but this is the best one, fully bleached with no chemicals used.
- I tended camp for Guillermo and Chris yesterday. They had a little spat but everything seems to be OK now. It isn't easy to be with one person all the time and not get into a disagreement once in a while. They talked about it and I talked to both of them about it. Shearing is coming up soon and I will get a chance to work with them for several days in a row. I will be able to see a little more of Chris's working style and maybe help him a little.
- WE WILL START SHEARING ON NOV. 19th. IF YOU WANT TO COME OUT AND VOLUNTEER. CONTACT ME ASAP. or 541 215 9109 We will be shearing in Oddessa, WA.
- I have been hauling sheep for Krebs Sheep Co. for the past three days. We got all of their ewes off the Mountain allotments and down to the High-Desert valleys of K-ville, OR. It was great to hang out with the sheep-boys but loading and hauling for three days in a row can really wear you out.
- I hope to start working on a website for my friends Leavi and Carrie Hermans of Hermans Hilltop Kennels. Leavi and Carrie have started Dudley (Gale/Mick pup) before I got him back. The Hermans run several hundred mother cows as well as Leavi working for Krebs Sheep Co. Their dogs are usually well round on sheep and cattle. Leavi has some nice working Kelpies. I have a pup from one of his litters of last year. The herder (Guillermo) has been very happy with Pepe, who started working when he was 8 weeks old. Check back, I hope to have an interview with Carrie Hermans very soon. Leavi has a started BC female for sale right now. You can contact them here with questions.
- Our new intern as arrived from Denver, CO. His name is Chris. He has some experience with sheep. His grandparents had 75 head or so of ewes. He and his brother spent time on their farm.
- Since Mick's passing Leavi has offered and I have accepted Dudley back. Dudley is a Mick/Gale pup. He looks just like his father and his personality is very similar as well. Leavi and his wife have started Dudley already. I haven't worked him much but will start working on him this week. Look for more news on Dudley to come.
- We sorted my lambs from the other feeders lambs this past Saturday. We moved my lambs over to a new circle. They have gained 10lbs since coming off the mountains. That is about .20lbs a day. That is about what we expect on grass pasture.
- While we were unloading the lambs I managed to split my head open on the sheep trailer. I didn't have my hardhat on and smacked my head while going up the chute to help the herders unload lambs. It left a 4" cut straight down the middle of my head. It looks like a have a permanent part in my hair now. Or should I say, a permanent reminder to wear my helmet when getting into/out of the trailer. The upside is the lambs are on fresh, tall pasture and happy.
Redtop Mick (10-6-2001 - 10-15-2010) Mick was my best friend and working partner. He has been a huge part of my life for the past 7 years. Mick was truly a member of our family and a loyal friend to the very end. His passing reminds me of all the things we went through together. He was there when I bought my first handful of sheep and at my side when I jump in with both feet to buy 900 ewe-lambs. He was worked his heart out for me the first year we lambed out those ewe-lambs and learned his job of holding the ewes while I caught them to bring them into the barn. I couldn't have done that without him. Mick was my first "Open" dog that I trained (he was started when I bought him from Sue Wessels). Mick was huge in size and personality. Mick was kind to his sheep never biting lambs and would only work their mothers allowing the lambs to come right up to him without ever gripping them, he would push them with his nose but never grip. Mick was semi-retired this year but I could always go get him from the kennel and take him to work without a second thought about him knowing the job. I have been telling myself that I need to get another dog trained up to take his place but never wanting to accept that he wouldn't be there waiting for me to take him to work if needed. Mick was a one person dog. He wouldn't work for any of the herders or even my wife Katie. If ever I had to leave him somewhere he had to be tied up or he would leave to come look for me. He was my dog. They say you only get one or two really good dogs in one mans lifetime. If that is true then I have had one really good dog in my life, it was Mick. We love you Mick, your a good dog.
Today has not been an easy one for my family. Our dog Mick has passed away and left us all very sorrowful. Mick and I didn't always see eye to eye on a lot of issues and I think a lot of that stemmed from his loyalty to Eric. He took his loyalty very seriously and very much to heart. Most of that was apparent while working sheep, He turned a very deaf ear to me however at our home our relationship took on a very different dynamic. He is probably the best kid dog I will ever meet. He was nothing but patient with our son as he sat on, pulled his ear and did countless other things that most dogs wouldn't put up with. You don't realize how much you have come to love someone until a day like this comes. I am very sad to have had to say goodbye to him earlier today. You will never be forgotten Mick, rest in peace.
Kris M. Eric - I am so sorry for your loss. Mick was a great partner. RIP Mick.
Heather O. - Sorry Eric to hear about Mick, He was your bud just like Max SOOOOO Sorry Eric Love you!!!!!!!!!!
Sue W. "Eric, sorry for your loss. What a great dog and loyal companion he was to you and your family."
Brittany wrote: "So sorry about Mick!"
Susan wrote: "I'm so sorry to hear about Mick."
Jeff wrote: "Sorry to hear about your Mick. You guy's did so much together."
Jo wrote: "Eric, so sorry, it must be a very sad day at your place. How lucky you were to have such a wonderful partner. "
Karen wrote: "my heart goes out to you...you were blessed to have such a great partner,, i bet you learned as much from him as he learned from you.."
Melinda wrote: "What a terrific dog he was, Eric. I can't believe he's gone. What a great partnership you had."
- We turned ram into our second band on the 22nd. I bought three new suffolk ram-lambs from Jim Lunders in Hermiston, OR. The price was heavy but the ram-lambs look great. I also bought three Suffolk ewe-lambs at the same time. I was thinking that next year we can have our own ram-lambs to use. I hate running Suffolk ewes but we may be able to save some money doing it this way.
- I hauled a load of ewes over to Vashon Island, WA on Wed. They are being used for the Vashon Island Sheepdog Trial. I hope they work well for them. CLICK on the link http://www.vashonsheepdogclassic.com/
- We also have a new Intern coming in November. He is from Denver, CO. We look forward to his help.
- We are turning in the Suffolk Rams today. This means we will start lambing on Jan. 20th 2011. It seems like we just got done lambing and already half of our lambs have been shipped to the feedlot. These were the lambs from our lead band of sheep. They ended up averaging 120lbs. That is 10lbs better then last year. I was very happy to say the least. We still have the lambs in our second band. I expect them to weight about 97lbs right now.
- I had a meeting yesterday with the one of the guys we graze circles for. They only have two full circles for us this year. The grass-seed business has all but come to a stop. I am happy to have anything at all. I still have to meet with my contact up north in Odessa, WA. I hope he has at least 3-4 circles for me. Time will tell.
- My father and I managed to catch two of the wild LGD puppies that were down at the lambing camp yesterday. It took two of us to catch them but now they can go out to the mountains and start working.
- I uploaded some photos of Katie, Ethan and myself driving the pony to Facebook.
- We have been hauling lambs to the feedlots in Ault, CO. We did one load for Krebs Sheep Co. and one load for ourselves. We are leaving tomorrow morning for our second load of lambs to the feedlot. We were suppose to leave this morning but had a broken injection line on the truck. My dad fixed that for me and we are all set. Once this load to done we will still have two loads of lambs to take to the circles. These are the smaller lambs, only about 90lbs and so are not yet ready to be sold. Our target weight for sale this year is over 110lbs.
- I am supplying sheep for the Vashon, WA Sheepdog trial as well at Fire Ridge (Milton-Freewater, OR) trials in October. Go to the www.OSDS.org website to enter.
- I added some new photos. CLICK HERE to see them.
- We moved what used to be called Guillermo's band (first band) to the allotment on Looking Glass Mountain. They were in the Elbow Creek for the first part of the summer. The move went smoothly accept we were not able to catch both of the new LGDs. I left some sheep behind and the herder was able to get Luke (new LGD) to follow the sheep into the corrals. We then loaded those sheep on the truck for a second load for my truck. Luke followed the sheep up onto the truck no problem. The second dog, a female wouldn't go into the corrals and wouldn't let us catch her. I ended up borrowing a live-trap from a friend and trapping her.
- Guillermo is now working with the second band (later lambs). Luis and Migel (transfer herder) are working the first band. We have a big move for the second band and then I will transfer Migel back to California. It has been helpful for us to have two herders with our second band since we don't know this allotment yet. This means we can leave Luis with the sheep while Migel and I look at where we want to move to. Also Migel is scouting out water for the sheep and access to different sheep camp sites. Next year we will not need two herders with that band.
- Guillermo heard wolves for the first time two nights ago. I got a call from a friend who spotted three wolves crossing the main road about 5 miles from my sheep. That same night Guillermo heard wolves calling. Guillermo said the LGDs were in high-gear, barking and very excited. I bought one of my LGDs back from a family with small acrage. This LGD is a son of Nine and Trooper and is about waist-high at his shoulder and 150lbs. His name is Tom-2. We turned him out in the mountains with Guillermo's band. Guillermo now has 5 adult LGDs and 4 puppies with his band. I hope that is enough to keep the wolves away. The area we are currently grazing is too steep the put up a night pen. The sheep are bedded down on a narrow ridge above the area they are grazing during the day. The herder has his tent out on that ridge. I have a feeling that it is only a matter of time before we are having to deal with the wolves.
- Migel's band is doing very well. They are grazing an area that is flat and open. There is plenty of water and the herding is easy. He has 3 adult LGDs and 2 younger LGDs. We tended camp for him yesterday. On the way off the mountain we ran into a large herd of Elk cows and their calves. I have never seen that many Elk in one place and with little calves. The sound that made was very interesting as they moved through the woods.
- We have a new herder coming from Peru. He will be here in a couple weeks. I am going to put him with Guillermo for a few days and then with Migel for a few days. Then I am going to take Migel off the sheep and put him on building corrals with me. When we are finished with the Corrals, Migel is going back to California to his fulltime Company. He is with me on a temp contract for the summer.
- We got our second band turned out on or about 05-28-10. The feed up on Looking Glass Mountain is really good. We have moved Migel's camp several times at this point. We try to move his camper every 4 days. This keeps the fresh feed upto the lambs. It also makes for easier herding for Migel since the sheep don't want to travel so much when they have fresh feed.
- Guillermo is down in the Elbow Creek and has grazed out about 2000 acres already. It has been a very cool and rainy spring for us. The grass is growing fast and has a lot of water in it. This means the lambs aren't gaining as well. They have plenty of feed but the protein content isn't as concentrated, the feed is "washy". I will post some photos of the lambs CLICK HERE to see them.
- I had a meeting with Forest Capital Partners to day regarding the new allotment. We went over some maps and talked about a plan for grazing it. There hasn't been any sheep up there for 6 years. It will be interesting. We did get the green light to turn out our first band on Elbow Creek. We will be hauling them there on Fri.
- I added some new photos to the website. CLICK HERE to see them.
- We had our meeting with the ODFW and Defenders of Wildlife. They want us to run 5-7 LGDs per band of sheep, put up night pens with special electrified wire. And then if we have a confirmed kill they will give us a radio alert box that goes off if a collard wolf is within a certain distance from it.
- The word is "The wolves are killing about one calf every 4-5 days in Wallowa County" right now. We hauled Krebs Sheep Co. to the mountain allotments in Wallowa County over the past few days. We will see how long is takes the wolves to get onto the sheep.
- I am working hard to get Defenders of Wildlife and the ODFW on board to help us find as many LGDs to run with our sheep as they suggest. I just hope we get this deal to go through before any of us have issues with kills.
- I did manage to get Potato-horse to carry a full pack. I put one 50lb sack of salt on each side and managed to get her to pack them around behind Jewel (black quater horse I bought for my dad). She did well once she got over having the pack saddle and bags on her.
- My dad come in last night from Wisconsin. His flight came in at 11pm in Pasco, WA. We picked him up. I then left this morning at 5am to go haul sheep for the Krebs Sheep Co. It has been a very long day.
- I got Guillermo's band moved down to the river-side pasture a couple days ago. We had to cross a very fast two-lane highway. We held the sheep at the roadside until it was all clear and then the sheep didn't want to pass onto the road. I was there with Mick. Guillermo had Buck, Dos and Pepe. We finally got he sheep to move onto the road and by that time an SUV had come up and had to wait for us. It is funny how once you stop sheep they think you don't want them to go over/through something. I have always said, don't stop the flow. We did get them to the entrance for the new pasture but there was wheat on one side of us so I stop them short. We needed to "thread the nettle" in order to avoid the wheat and get them through the gate. In order to do that the sheep need to go down a steep hill and they didn't want to do that. Guillermo and I pushed hard but the sheep were not going down that slope. Finally we found a new path that doubled back around was not as steep. Once the sheep decided not to go down the slope, the harder we pushed the more they were convinced they shouldn't go. Once they are all bunch up it is hard to get any movement. You need to cut the bunch down into a smaller size by wading into the sheep and putting pressure on the sheep in the front. Otherwise the sheep in the front don't feel the pressure you are putting on from the back. You dogs can push hard but do nothing to move the entire group. This is what was happening. When I finally got a small group, about 30 ewes to move down the tail, I had Mick go up one side of them and come back past them. This made the sheep move against Mick's pressure and run by him. This is a trick that Mick and I have been working out for years now. The summer we spent on the mountains was the summer we learned it together and it really helps keep the sheep moving down a narrow path.
- I finally got a pack saddle. I found one at the "Horse Plaza" in Hermiston, OR. It was half the price of a new one so I am happy. I broke an axle on my Chevy pickup while trying to tent camp the other day. It was very muddy and so I had chains on. After that, I decided to get a pack saddle and start packing in to tend camp when I cannot get the truck in there. All I need to do now is get "Potato-horse" broke to the pack saddle. I worked with her for several hours yesterday and finally got the bags on her. With nothing in them. She follows very well on the trail but needs to be broke to the saddle.
- This is the email I sent to the "Defenders of Wildlife" today.
- I sent it to:
- Jesse Timberlake
Northern Rockies Associate
Defenders of Wildlife
PO Box 773
Boise, ID 83701
I am the owner/operator of Harlow Sheep Co. We graze our sheep on two allotments of private mountain pasture in North Eastern Oregon. Cayle Krebs (Krebs Sheep Co.) and I met with Russ Morgon of the Oregon Fish and Wildlife yesterday. Russ suggested I contact you regarding our summer grazing allotments. We are very concerned that there are wolves confirmed in the areas we will be grazing. We would like to take whatever preventative actions we can before we have an issue with livestock losses. The Oregon Fish and Wildlife budget for pretention is only $30,000 for the entire state. There are several Sheep Companies with allotments in this new area for wolves. Please contact me at your earliest convenience.
Eric JT Harlow
Harlow Sheep Co.
541 215 9109
Thanks for your email. I would like to try and speak to Russ about your situation. As I have not had the chance to visit your area, I do not know the layout of your allotment, and what the wolf activity is. If I can get this information off of Russ, then I think I can have a more informed chat with you about your options this summer. Clint Krebs is on the board of our Livestock Producers Advisory Council, and helps us with our compensation and preventative programs among other things. I will give you a call in the next two days.
- The wolves are here. Cayle Krebs and I just had a meeting with Russ Morgan from the Oregon Fish and Wildlife. He is the main person handling the Wolf issue in our area. There have been confirmed wolf kills and activity in the areas we each graze in the mountains for the summer. We also found out there is only $30,000 in funding for the entire state of Oregon for ranchers to do preventative things like electric fencing for the night pens. I am very frustrated with the situation. It is not Russ's fault, he is just telling us the facts. We cannot shoot a wolf even if it is killing our sheep in front of our eyes.
- Russ suggested with run at least 7 livestock guardian dogs with each of our bands of sheep. I am all about more LGDs but the cost of feeding them cannot be forgotten. Not to mention managing them for the rest of the year when we are not on the allotment. He said it all depends on the size of the pack. He said that a ratio of 2:1 LGD to wolves was not enough to stop the wolves from killing our LGDs. As of now we have a pack of 4 wolves in the area of our allotment and the female has a den with pups. With those numbers we will have to run at lest 8 LGDs per band and that will not insure our LGDs don't get killed.
- I have said it before, we go way out of our way to try to prevent our sheep from coming into contact with predators and we will continue to do whatever we can to keep a problem from starting. However, I think wolves are an entirely new challenge for us sheep producers.
- I am looking for some Wolf-Collars for my LGDs. Here is a site with photos of what they used/use to protect their Livestock Guardian Dogs from being killed by wolves. http://www.abruzzese.org/collar.htm
- My PC has been down for a while. The CMOS battery was out. Dell sent me a new one and I am back in business.
- I am currently working on an interview with Don Hesley. I hope to have it posted in a couple weeks. If you have any questions you would like me to ask Don, or suggestions for others you would like me to interview, please email me.
- I am on the hunt for another horse. One that is broke enough for the herders to ride up on the mountain allotment. I am keeping Cowboy as my own horse and Suger (AKA Patatoe-horse) will be the pack-horse since she is not broke to ride yet. The herders really want a 4-wheeler for the allotment but I would rather send them up there with a couple horse. Horses are a pain in the neck at times but they can really save your feet too. I am sure I will have lots of stories about horses this summer.
- Currently Migel has the following Border Collies: Gale, Greg, Chaco and Alley. Alley is Gales daughter from the second litter she had with Cap. Alley is sure coming on strong as a sheep-dog. Gueillermo has Buck, Dose and Pepe for his Border Collies. Pepe is technically a Kelpie but he has enough white on him to pass for a Border Collie. He is just a puppy but has really come along fast. He work each day with the older dogs. I saw him last week and he was pushing sheep along very well. If you didn't know he was a puppy you couldn't tell.
- Nine (Livestock Guardian Dog) has had a litter of puppies. The father is Tom (Livestock Guardian Dog). She had the puppies two days ago up on the range. There are eight puppies as far as I can tell. We put a doghouse out there for her but she decided to have the puppies under a tin cover. They are very safe and warm under their and they are right next to the watering point. Nine has good instincts for taking care of her puppies.
- We are getting our new Komondor male puppy in a couple weeks. I look forward to seeing how he fits in with the other LGDs.
- We may have found some new pasture up North of Walla Walla, WA. I don't think the pasture will last for more then a few weeks so we have to be careful when we turn out onto it. I don't want to have to bring the sheep back to the lambing camp before we go up to the mountain allotment. If we put the sheep out on range too soon that very well could happen.
- My friend Diane Pagel did a review of the movie "Sweetgrass". CLICK HERE to read it.
- Jorge (sheep herder) has gone back to Peru. At this point he will be back with his family in Junin. I want to thank Jorge for all his hard work on our ranch. He will be missed.
- Currently we have Migel as a transfer-herder from California. Migel has been doing contracts in America for 11 years now. He has a drivers licenses and seems to be well adapted to life in America. Currently he is helping me at the lambing camp with about 500 ewes and their lambs. Lambing has all but stopped at this point with only 12 or so ewes to finish. In our free time Migel and I are working with two horses. One is a 4yo ranch-horse I bought at the Hermiston horse auction. The other is a 4yo mare that has no experience with people at all. She is very calm but knows nothing. At this point I have her lunging and we have had a saddle on he a couple times. Migel has taken her on as his own project. At least once a day we get the horses out and work with them. We are building up the bond with the horses and working to get them both fully broke as ranch-horses. My gelding, Cowboy, is fully broke but has a lot of issues with trusting me on the ground. I hope to be able to work him through it over the summer. I am not riding him much. Mostly we brush the horses and then lunge them for a while and just try to bond with them. We work on their feet and putting the saddle on and off. Keeping things quit and easy. Migel seems to have a good understanding of how to bond with a horse before you ask them to trust you. This work with the horses is not any different then how we work with Border Collies. If a dog doesn't like you, they may still work for you; you will never get them to their full potential.
- I am very excited to see this new sheep movie, Sweet Grass. I don't know much about it but the website looks interesting. See the Trailer
- Our new transfer herder, Migel, arrived yesterday. He has been doing contracts in the US for 7 years now and has a driver's license. He seems very motivated and quick to catch on. Jorge is still here, he is leaving for Peru on Fri. morning. He will be back in Peru for three months and then he can apply to come back to the US.
- We have been looking to buy more ewes but the market is very tight right now. We may end up running a couple hundred of our ewes with Cameron to make up a full band for Cameron. Then I will only have to have one herder this summer. That will help a bit. Things are changing all the time so, who knows, maybe I will get a call tomorrow from somebody that has the ewes I want to buy.
- We still have about 500 ewes in the lambing camp with their lambs. We have very little pasture there so are having to feed a lot of hay. It got really cold and rainy so it seems winter is not over yet. The ewes we have up north are doing well. We are about to move them onto some range ground tomorrow. They have been on stubble but it was sprayed out and not very good now. The range we are going onto is really nice and so our lambs will be happy. I don't think their is enough room there for all my ewes but I am thinking about adding another truck-load from the lambing camp. Otherwise we should be able to get out on pasture with them on April 15th. That is unless it stays cold like this.
- I added some new photos. CLICK HERE to see them.
- Wanted: 400-500 ewes with lambs. CONTACT ME if you have ewes with lambs for sale.
- Well, the onion deal worked out OK. It took the sheep about 3 days to get onto them. Then we fed just 1lb of Alfalfa per ewe each day. I thought we were onto something really great. Then, the land owner came by the lambing camp and asked me not to feed out any more onions on that pasture. We was afraid the grass wouldn't come up were we fed the onions out. We didn't accept anymore onions. It took the sheep about 10 days to finish that truck load. And then the onions had turned and the sheep didn't want to clean them up. I ended up hauling a couple pickup-truck loads of onions off the field. I did this to make sure the grass was not covered up and the land owner wasn't going to be upset with me. He did give me a couple hundred acres of stubble ground that was connected to the lambing camp to graze off. We pushed the ewes over onto that ground this past week. It was fun to do a little trailing down the road. The ewes got on the road and just took off.
- With Guillermo out on range we only have the two herders finishing up lambing. The Targhee ewes I bought from Lisa Patterson started lambing on the 10th. They are doing 185 % lambing right now. We have had several sets of triplets and 1 set of quads. They are mostly nice big twins. I am impressed with these ewes so far. However, they are lambing late and were bred on the grass-circle, so they have everything going for them.
- My old Buddy Dan Attoe come out for the weekend. He brought out his old Ford Ranger pickup to donate to the Sheep Co. We loaded it down with hay the very next day and have not looked back. Jorge is really excited about it. He has already claimed it has "his truck". Dan put a really cool CD player in it. That is all it took for Jorge to fall in love.
- We fed onions for the first time last week. The truck showed up with 30ton of onions on it. Some of the sheep know what onions are and they ran to the truck. The ewes I bought out of NM didn't know about them and it has taken a few days to get them going. Now, they are heavy into them and no sign of stopping. That is until the owner of the lambing camp decided he didn't want the onion fed out over his pasture. He is worried about the grass getting killed under the onions. I understand how he feels. Of course I agreed to take no more onions in that field. This really limits us on getting onions now. Perhaps we will put them up on our spring pasture once it gets sprayed out. They till that ground in after we leave so having onions on it will not hurt.
- When one door closes; I had gotten a call this morning from a guy with land next to my current spring pasture. He didn't seem interested the first time I called him but after a few weeks he finally called me back and we had a meeting today. We may have enough ground up there now to put both of our bands up there. Wouldn't that be great. Just have to make sure to keep the two bands apart.
- I just uploaded my interview with Patrick Shannahan. CLICK HERE to read it.
- I started Ali today. She is from the breeding I did with Gale and Don Helsey's cap. She has a lot of push and a very strong heal bite. I worked her on the rams and she didn't have any problem moving them. She is going to be fun to train. We did about 1/2 session. Gale, her mother, was there to help keep things under control.
- I posted a lot of new photos from lambing. CLICK on PHOTOS to see them.
- Mick was neutered a couple weeks ago. It wasn't personal. Of course it was personal. I just got so sick of him trying to fight ever single dog in the lambing camp. He is 8yo now and you would think he would start to settle down a bit. Nope, the final straw was when he took on Tom, the very best LGD I have ever seen. Old Tom was servicing two LGD females at the lambing camp so he had his hands full (if you know what I mean). I was keep Mick on a chain or in a crate when he wasn't working. Then one day I had Mick out with me while I was feeding out. Mick jumped off the feed truck and onto Tom. Tom had Mick on his back for some time but Mick wouldn't submit. I decided that Tom was going to kill Mick before Mick would stop. I love this old dog Mick. As I tell everyone he is a "Son-Bitch" but he is my old dog. Mick now has had a litter of pups and I thought was time to do something about the fighting, for Mick and myself. If Mick tried that without me there, I am sure Tom would have killed him. So now Mick will no longer have that urge to fight, I hope, and will live for many, many more years as my number one dog. It was a very hard choice for me to make but I feel it was the best thing for Mick. It has only been a couple weeks and I can already see the change starting to happen. Mick is easier to work and actually seems to be able to work harder. He still wants to fight but he doesn't seem to be going out and looking for trouble like he did before. I hope these changes are not my imagination.
- Just got finished hauling the first band (600 ewes) out to pasture. We found some new pasture north of Touchet, WA. We have been wanting to get pasture in WA for a couple years now. It looks like we lost our lease on the spring pasture we had by the lambing camp. They are putting in windmills. It seems the owners don't want anything in the way of that venture. I cannot say I blame them, since if I had land with a Windmill contract I wouldn't let anything in the way of it. Windmills are like gold producing geese.
- All this means we are still looking for spring pasture, it seems like we are always looking for spring pasture. We have an option to take one band back over to the West Side for a couple months. This may be our best option. I am also looking into feeding onions to the ewes we have left in the lambing camp. Anything to offset the cost of feeding hay.
- I traded the last Gale/Mick pup I had for a new horse and Kelpie pup for my herder, Guillermo. We lost one of his Border Collies in the lambing camp. I promised him I would get him a pup to replace her. A friend of my, Leavi really wanted a male pup from the Gale/Mick litter. I told him I would set him up with a male. I didn't really want to give the Gale/Mick pup to the herder because I don't think he would do as good a job with him as Leavi will. I really want to get Gale's pups out there so people can see want a fantastic Bitch she really is. I am hoping Leavi does some trialing with the pup in Cowdog trials. At the very least, Leavi is well known in Wallowa County for his Stock Dogs and good training.
- I want my herders to have good dogs but this herder is new here and doesn't know about Border Collies or training. He is using Buck and Dose, two Reg. Border Collies I bought as pups from Central Oregon. They are both excellent dogs and don't need the herder to know much about dogs to get the job done. After a while, if I think he could train a good dog, I will get him one of Gale's pups. But only if I think he will not screw it up. This Kelpie pup I gave him is from some tough CowDog Kelpies. Leavi works for Krebs Sheep Co. So, his dogs work cattle and sheep. Kelpies do well when you get them as pups and keep them with one person. Guillermo is at the start of his 3 year contract so he will have plenty of time to wait for this Kelpie and train up.
- The new horse is a real handful. She is really fun to ride but if you slip a little she will try to buck you. She is very light on the bit and rain. I don't think she is a herder's horse yet. Maybe in a few months I will be able to turn her over to one of them. Right now she needs an experienced rider and I am having too much fun to let her go.
- Lambing is 3/4 done. We are hauling ewes and lambs to pasture starting tomorrow. Should be long hard days. Nothing worse then pushing ewes with young lambs. The lambs don't know how to herd and the ewes want to kill the dogs. It is a fight from the word go.
- We got the lambs that are going to pasture castrated this past week. We need to get some ewes out on pasture. Once the lambs are big enough to keep up on the range, 3-4 weeks old, we get them out. It saves on the hay bill. We do lose a herder from the lambing camp but we will make due.
- Lambing is in full swing. We are through about 400 ewes already. The singles we have are huge and the twins very good size as well. Doing about 145% lambing right now. We are running out of corral space again this year. We will be building more corrals. The singles are going out onto pasture and look good.
- If you are interested in coming to our lambing, call me 541 215 9109.
- Starting to haul the ewes home tomorrow. It is going to be a long 4 days of hauling one load a day until it is finished.
- We didn't get everything done at the lambing camp that we wanted to. That is the price we pay for running feeder lambs. However, we did make out well on our feeder lambs this year. It has been very warm for the past two weeks and a mild winter. We put almost 25lbs per head on those feeder lambs. We had them for 105 days. That is .27lbs per day of gain. That was better then we expected. It makes up for last year when we got into that snow-storm and the lambs didn't do as well. This year we brought the lambs back to Touchet, WA for the final month and it was the right choice. They had access to Frosted-Alfalfa and a couple weeks on an Orchard Grass pasture. The other difference is that we didn't shear them. I think that had a lot to do with it. We had to pay for pasture this year but with the extra gain we are still coming out ahead. All and all this was a fantastic fall/winter for grazing lambs. My own feeder lambs gained over .3lbs per day this fall. I just hope next year is just as good if not better. I am sure we will do feeder lambs on contract again, perhaps try to increase the numbers.
- I uploaded several new photos. CLICK HERE to see them.
- The latest Targhee news letter is out. Click HERE to read it.
- I purchased 200 Targhee ewes this fall. We would like to get a little bigger ewe and increase our lambing percentage if possible. If you own Targhees, please contact me. I am looking for a few Ram-Lambs for next year.
- Happy New Year. Things have gotten going again around here. Skye Krebbs had a huge Bon-fire at his house and it was a blast. I felt like I was starting the year off right. The next morning came early. Skye came and got me up out of his TV-chair about 6am. All the college kids were dead asleep so Skye and I went out to feed the ewes and cows. It was really nice to see more of Skye's ranch and talk with him a bit.
- We trailed the feeder Lambs again today. This time to new Alfalfa pasture along the state-line road. There was a bit of traffic but I think most people didn't mind waiting for us. It was Katie/Zack, Guillermo/Dos and me/Mick. Katie really wanted to do the trailing so I spent most of the time in the SUV with Ethan. We followed along with our flashers on listening to the radio. Mick was not happy at all. He had to sit in the back and watch the other dogs make mistakes and take his job. I got him out a couple of times to help things when they were getting out of control. But, for the most part Katie and Guillermo did it all. It was a short 2.5 mile trail. They did it without getting into the plowed fields and off the road too much. I was very proud.
- Guillermo trailed the feeder-lambs over to Louis's Orchard Grass pasture today. I had to chain-up my truck in order to get his camper moved. It was a long day. Lots of snow and mud.
- I am working on an interview with Patrick Shannahan. Patrick Shannahan is very well known sheepdog trainer, handler and clinician. Please let me know if you have any questions you would like to ask him. Email me: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- I am also working on an interview with Cayle Krebs of Krebs Sheep Co. He is a fourth generation sheep/cattle rancher. What questions would you like me to ask him about the future of the Sheep industry? Email me: email@example.com.
- I have reposted an interview I did with Derek Fisher. CLICK HERE to read it.
- Sheepmen. You only meet a handful of sheepmen in you life. We are so far and few. One if the greatest Sheepmen I have ever met is Skye Krebs of Krebs Sheep Co. When we had over 2400 lambs with Ryegrass staggers Skye was a rock. We went to the vet with a handful of lambs and when we found out the problem he knew what to do. In fact before we found the problem, Skye was already working on the solution. We pulled the lambs off the pasture and put them on Alfalfa hay in a dry-lot. Skye knew there was a problem and was working on fixing it before we knew the cause. We got those lambs healed up quickly and fully before they had to ride a truck to Denver CO. His experience comes from experience. It seems everyone wants to know why the sheep industry is collapsing in onto itself. We don't support our young sheepfarmers enough. We don't make sure that people like Skye stay in. Support your local sheepfarmer and he will one day have the experience that Skye has. He/She will one day have enough time to "figure it out" and provide America with American lamb.
- Ethan had his 1st birthday on Dec. 4th. He was very happy to be able to get cake. Then he ran himself to sleep on a sugar-high.
- My birthday is coming up on the 11th and I am not looking forward to being 34 years old. One year closer to 40. ;-)
- We now have two litters of pups on the ground. We have Gale and Mick's litter of pups. They are registered pups. I have all but two sold from that litter. let me know if you are interested.
- We also have a litter of pups on the ground from a non-reg. female that was given to me in a trade I made for a pickup truck. She is red. She is very biddable and needs a soft touch. The father is a very good registered male named Dose. I bought Dose as a pups from a cattle ranch in Central Oregon. I bought him and his brother Buck as the same time. Dose is mostly black with white feet. He has short hair and long legs. Dose is also a very biddable dog that will work for anyone of our herders. He is a proven ranch-dog. They are all female pups. A couple are red but mostly they are black with traditional markings. I will sell these pups for $50 per head since they are not going to be registered.
- I received the following updated from Nancy Obernier. She has a pup from Gale's second litter with Don Helsley's Cap. It sounds like he is doing very well for his first time on sheep.
thought I would let you know how Glenn is coming along. I took him to sheep for the first time yesterday. I was wondering how he would be, as he's been quite the momma's boy. I've been away alot recently and haven't had time for training young dogs, but I'm home now for the winter and am starting my young dogs.
He was quite sensible on the sheep, for never having been on sheep before, he looked like he had been worked regularly for several weeks. He went both ways, turning out nicely when switching directions, walking forward some when asked and even stopping and laying down, tho I've never taught him a lie down, but getting right back up when asked. There was no rashness or puppy sillyness.
I was very very happy with him.
Here is the photo she sent also.
- I got all my feeder lambs trucked down from Moses Lake, WA to Touchet, WA today. They are only a few miles from my house. It will be nice to have them close for a change. We are grazing Alfalfa fields for a local farm named DeRuwe. Guillermo is down here with the feeder lambs also. We should be able to get a lot of work done on the lambing camp with him close enough for me to go pickup and take to work.
- Can you say Sheep Hauling? I can. We finished shearing on Sat. I drove home that night and Monday Morning got into a semi truck to drive with Cameron. We team drove all the way to Denver, CO. We dropped off the lambs and drove back that same day. We were in a truck for 2300 miles or 46 hours. We stopped for coffee and to change drivers. That lambs lost only 6.5lbs each all the way there. We had two other trucks with us. One driven by a very good driver named Mike D. and the other was driven by Cayle and Andrew. Cayle had put his much nicer truck in front of my trailer. I drove with Cameron pulling his set of doubles with his truck. Cameron's truck is very nice. It had cruise-control and lots of power. Not to mention a 13 speed transmission. I am accustom to driving a 9 speed truck. It took me a couple hours to get the hang of it but it is really nice once I did. We got there and unloaded in 22 hours. We didn't lose one single lamb.
- It is Thanksgiving and I am alone at the house. Katie took Ethan to her folks since I was going to be on the road. I also missed our 2nd wedding anniversary. She is a very understanding wife. She knows that when stuff needs doing, we get is done.
- That last haul was for Skye Krebb's lambs. The next haul we do with me on Monday. That will be my lambs. My lambs have gotten huge. They are over 125lbs. I just hope we can get them on two semis and a set of doubles.
- I am hauling feeder lambs down to the house tomorrow. I have a neighbor that has 3-4 hundred acres of Alfalfa I am going to graze off for him. Cameron is going to haul a load for me tomorrow. I will haul one tomorrow and one on Sat. That will be all the hauling for a while.
- Shearing is over for another year. Special thanks to those of you that came out to help we really appreciated the help. We "tagged" 1157 lambs and sheared 1267 ewes in four days. That is nothing less then hard but we got it done. I almost fell over when I got the bill. It cost me a little less then $5000 for the whole deal. It is a lot of money but if you have ever sheared a sheep you know that those guys deserve to be paid well for a job well done. At 5pm yesterday we still had 100 ewes in the corrals. The shearing boss decided they would just push on through and get it done. They sheared until after 7pm that night. It then took us two more hours to clean up and pack up. It is a good thing they finished because I have to haul lambs tomorrow and it started raining last night. So, that would have meant we didn't get finished shearing until next week. That would have been bad.
- I was very proud of Gale. She is truly a working mother. She would work in the corrals and each break she would get into the pickup and nurse her pups. Then when the shearers started shearing again she would come back to work. She is the hardest working dog on this ranch. The boys just have to work, they don't have to try to raise pups as well. Mick mostly laid under the shearing wagon waiting for me to call him to work. He will NOT work for anyone but me. He likes the herders but he will not work for them. I was doing wool-handing (grading, skirting, working the press) and not work in the corrals much. Jorge would call Mick to come to work and Mick would just act like he didn't hear him. Jorge knows Mick will not work for him but that doesn't stop he from trying to get him to come to work.
- I sorted the very best wool (finest, whitest) off into a bale. I will get a weight on the bale and put it up for sale on this website. This wool will be in the low 20 micron or upper teens. This is SUPER-FINE wool. The bale is about half-full so should weigh about 200lbs.
- I am leaving tomorrow to take Skye's lambs out to the feedlot in Denver. We are using Skye's truck and my trailer since it is legal in all the states between here and there.
- I am having a mechanic work on my trailer this weekend. He is adding some cross-members to it as well as fixing a few cracks that need welding.
- Gale whelped a litter of pups. The father is my Mick. Not sure on the boy/girl count. Will start checking them in a couple days.
- We got my lambs moved down to Alfalfa. We also got Skye's lambs moved. They are doing much better now that they are off the Ryegrass. Lesson learned.
- Tagging on Wed. Nov. 11th has been cancelled. Our lambs have been struck by Ryegrass-Staggers. It is a rare condition brought on by a combination of weather conditions. We you have wet weather in the fall or spring and then it gets dry, the grass gets stressed and forms a toxin. CLICK HERE to read about it, or HERE. The lambs will recover, it will take some time.
- HELP! We are Tagging (shear the butts and heads) of 1200 lambs on Nov. 11th. We need your help. Please CONTACT ME.
When: Nov. 11th
Where: Hermiston, OR USA
Why: Lots of dog work
How: Anyway you can get here.
We will have atleast 8 shearers on this crew so this we be a fast working environment.
Please call Eric 541 215 9109 or email me firstname.lastname@example.org
- Over the past 48 hours Jorge, Guillermo and I have: Trailed 1100 lambs 6 miles from one side of the ranch we are grazing circles on to the other. Then, I took the herders up to Moses Lake, WA that night. The next morning they setup the corrals and we trucked 1000 lambs 11 miles down the road to a new circle of Timothy (I know I said Timothy is no good for lambs, but I promised the guy I would graze it off for him. We will move the feeder-lambs down to Fescue ASAP.) It took us three loads. We only had my truck so we had one chute. This meant we had to packup the chute and hang it back on the truck twice for every load. I got up there about 9am this morning and we finished up at 5pm. I then drove Guillermo back to the ranch that has my lambs still on it. Long day. We didn't loss any lambs on either move. That was great.
- When we trailed the lambs across the circle ranch the two LGDs were not with the lambs when we started. The Coyotes were heavy the night before and so the dogs were outside the fence. It is very rare that these older (Tom is 3yo and Tom II is 1yo) will leave the sheep for any reason. Both dogs were a little scraped up, like they were in a fight. It must have been a hell of a fight with the coyotes for the dogs to give chase like that. By the time we had the lambs trailed to the new circle both LGDs were hot on our trail. They found the new circle, over 6 miles away, on their own. They must have gotten back to the circle, see the lambs gone and started to follow the scent trail. It is a good thing we didn't truck them. The LGDs impress me on a regular basis. BTW, it takes one hour per mile to trail any sheep and lambs is a little slower.
- Ethan is fine. Katie took him to the Doc. and he said he has a bad head-cold, just like his father. He is a powerful young man and will come out of it in a day or two. We thought it was H1N1 but it wasn't. He is getting vaccinated ASAP.
- A lot of work lately, or I should say a lot of hauling. I hauled my ewes up to Moses Lake, WA. The Hutterites had 400 acres of timothy they wanted grazed off. I was going to take my lambs up there but after talking to another sheep-man, Wayne Twetty, I decided to send my ewes up to the Timothy and keep my lambs on Fescue. It seems the Timothy has a lot of water in it and so the lambs cannot eat enough to get really good gains. The ewes are bigger and so can eat plenty of the grass. The Timothy was at least a foot tall when we put the ewes off onto. Cayle hauled for me one day and I hauled the other two days by myself. The day that Cayle hauled with me, we learned a very valuable lesson about the weigh-scales. Don't go over them if you can avoid them. I thought my ewes weight no more then 150lbs. So both Cayle and I loaded for that weight. It turns out my ewes gained about 10lbs since they got off the mountain. They were over 160lbs. That meant both Cayle and I were over on the scale. This meant tickets for the both of us. I was 2700lbs over on my truck and got a $282 ticket. Cayle was almost 5000lbs over on his truck and got a $825 ticket. This means I got two tickets equaling over $1100. I told Cayle what to load and so I will be paying his ticket for him. By the third day of hauling I had figured out a back-road around the scales and so everything was fine. I just wish I would have figured it out a day earlier.
- I change the two herders around. Jorge is now up in Moses Lake and Guillermo is down at Sun Heaven farms. Guillermo over-heated my white Chevy pickup three times. After the first day of hauling my ewes I decided to stay at the Herder's camp with Guillermo and Jorge. We got back from dropping the ewes off and parked my semi-truck at the corrals where we would load out the ewes in the morning. We all jumped into the White Chevy and started across the ranch to Guillermo's trailer. His trailer was parked by the circle my lambs are on. This was about 20 miles from the corrals where we were loading out my ewes. After about 5 miles I could smell the pickup was burning up and started to tick. I had Guillermo stop the truck and opened the hood. The truck was over-heated. After re-filling the water we couldn't get it re-started. It was 10pm and we had about 15 miles to walk to get to the camper to sleep. I called Cayle and had him pick us up by the camper the next morning. We then started our long walk. It took us under 3 hours to walk the distance. We were at the camper before 1am. We then went off to sleep for 5 hours and walked out to the main road to meet Cayle. The long walk and short sleep didn't seem to effect the herders but I was very tired and still had two more full days of hauling in front of me. Cayle gave me an energy drink and I was back in business. On the last day of hauling I lost one of my ewes on the last load. She must have gotten down and stepped on. I have never lost a ewe on that trailer before.
- On Sunday all the hauling was finished but I was feeling very sick. I managed to drag myself over to Guillermo's camp in Sun Heaven to work on that White Chevy. I had no idea why it was over-heating. The first thing I did was replace the thermostat (it is common that heating and cooling problems come from a thermostat that is suck in the closed (over-heating) or open (never warms up) position. This is one of the many lessons my father departed to me that has saved me a lot of trips to the mechanics.) Then I figured out where all the water was draining out of the motor. I guess when they over-heated it one of the "freeze-plugs" popped out of the motor. I replaced it and the truck is no longer over-heating. The parts cost me less then $30. That was one small win in three-day run of back luck. I don't consider myself to be a very good mechanic but like most things, if doing it yourself can save you money, you learn quickly.
- I spent yesterday sleeping and trying to recover from this cold I have. I think I past it onto Ethan as well. He now has a running nose and doesn't feel good. Today I am getting caught up on the office work. It did feel really good to sit around the house with Katie and Ethan. Just wish I wasn't sick.
- I just got some exciting news. Karen, a handler that purchased one of Gale's pups from her first litter (sire was Don Helsey's Cap) named Nap called me. She had sent Nap to Angie Coker-Sells http://www.bordercolliesatsandrockranch.com for training. Angie has decided to keep Nap for the next year to run him in the USBCHA Nursery class. Angie is a very well respected sheepdog trainer/handler. It is very exciting for me to have a handler of her experience like one of Gale's pups enough to keep him for trialing. I will be keeping a very close eye on their progress as a team. You can track the trialing results at this website USBCHA.
- Jorge (the herder) is progessing very well with his driving. The first few times I took him out on the road I was very scared. now it is business as usual. He has had his permit for a month now. He failed the first attempt at his driving test last week but will try again this coming week. I hope he passes. It would make my life much easier if he could look after sheep in two spots.
- We are hauling ewes next Thurs., Fri. and Sat. Anyone interested in helping should contact me. Eric 541 215 9109 or email@example.com
- I found a stray ewe on the mountain yesterday. It was reported to me a couple days before but I couldn't get up there. It was reported as two sheep. When I pulled up onto the top of the allotment the ewe was standing there looking at me. I jumped Mick off the truck and the race was on. As you may know, it is very hard to catch or corral a single sheep. The ewe kept running around the trailer until I jump on her and caught her. I just thought to myself, "don't let go". After I got her on the trailer I started off to find the other sheep that was suppose to be there. I ended up down the access road to the first camp spot. I was coming around a corner and could smell a dead "something." I stopped, got out my pistol and started into the brush. The thing to remember about a dead anything in the brush is that the animal that killed it, is usually not too far away. Cats usually hide their kill very well and come back later to finish it. My fear was that I would get jumped while looking to see if whatever was dead, was my other stray sheep. I looked for a long time but couldn't find it. I assumed it was the second stray sheep. However, Mick and I kept looking and didn't find any other sheep.
- I have been hauling lambs for the past four days. Cameron got his truck stuck the night before we were suppose to be hauling for Pachy. He called me about 9pm and I went up to Pasco, WA to try to help him out. We had a tractor but it was too small for the job. We worked on it for a few hours and then went to bed, Cameron slept on the floor of his truck and gave me the bunk. The next morning we got a big tractor and pulled him right out. The problem was that this put us 4 hours behind on hauling. We got up to the mountain to start loading Pachy's lambs about lunchtime. The lambs were still on the ewes and needed to be sorted off as we loaded the truck. This took almost 3 hours to load two trucks. The grass-circle they were going to was 3 hours away. It just turned dark when we got there. We tried to get the lambs off my truck and it was a fight. These mountain lambs are very difficult to get off a truck, they are impossible to get off a truck at night. We decided to wait until morning. Cameron and I went to sleep. We got up at first light and got the lambs off both trucks by 8:30am. Once the sheep were off the trucks I then drove back up to the mountain to haul a second load of lambs for Pachy. While heading back up the mountain my truck blow-out a water cooling hose and starting to leak Antifreeze. I managed to get it filled up again and haul the second load of lambs for Pachy. For just over $30 in parts I fixed the hose.
- Another big week for us. We received just over 1079 feeder-lambs in for custom grazing. We took over 2000 last year but I knew there wasn't going to be as many grass-circles around this year and in fact there aren't. In fact I would say our grass acreage is down about 30% or more. That is ranching for you. One year you have more grass then you need and the next you don't have enough. Lucky for us we should have plenty of grass for our own lambs and ewes this winter. We are still looking for more ground for the spring. We need at least another 1000 acres starting on March 1st.
- I am still looking for a contract for our lambs. All the prices are down right now so I am waiting for the new lamb insurance rates to get published next week. That could make the price go up or down depending on the new rates. CLICK this Link for details. http://www.rma.usda.gov/tools/premcalc.html If we cannot get a good enough price for them as feeder-lambs they we just may have to send them to the feedlot and slaughter. That means we will not get any money for our lambs until well into next year. That would be a hard position to be in.
- I am heading out to Montana this Sunday to Dillon. I am picking up some feeder-lambs and bring them back to Pasco, WA. Anyone out there care to ride along, call me 541 215 9109. It is always better to have somebody to keep you awake.
- We had a couple of big weeks. We loaded our ewes off the mountain on Sept. 1st. We had Cameron and Cayle there with their trucks. A big thanks to them. We got all the ewes off the mountain in three truckloads. I loaded heavy on my truck.
- I posted a batch of new photos to Flickr. CLICK on this link to see them http://www.flickr.com/photos/40109702@N04/
- We are in a scramble right now, waiting for our new herder to get here from Peru. I currently have a transfer here but he was scheduled to go back to CA. on the first. It is now the 4th and no sign of the new herder yet. I need to make a plan but without more info. from Peru, I cannot. Anyone out there want a job herding sheep for a week? Actually the sheep are in small fenced pastures now so the job is very easy, just check them every couple hours and bring them water in the truck.
- I turned the rams out today. 9 Suffolk and 1 Rambouillet. We are going to lamb earlier this year because it is suppose to be an Elneo year. And, we would like to get our lambs a little heavy coming off the allotment. We are suppose to have a new allotment next year with lots and lots of ground, so we want to make sure our lambs are big enough to take full advantage of it when we get on it.
- I just added several photos from the mountain allotment. We worked the sheep through the corrals and sorted/loaded lambs over three days. Thank you to all who came to help. We really appreciated it.
- We also sold three ewe-lambs to June from Starshire Ranch. Click on her link to check out their website. The ewe-lambs were Rambouillet/Debouillet out of sets of twins. We hope she is very happy with them. I am sure they will provide years of great wool and lambs.
- I have uploaded a new video of Ethan. He is hanging out with Jorge and us in the camper on the mountain allotment. CLICK HERE
- It was a great time for all. We worked 2223 ewes and lambs through the race. We started at 6am and were finished by 2pm. No breaks, just loading the race again and again. We averaged about 55 sheep in the race each time. That means we loaded the race about 41 times. Gale (my number one Border Collie and most trusted employee) worked her heart out. She was so worn out that it was all she could do to gather the sheep before they trespassed on the neighbor.
- Special thanks to my volunteer work crew. You all worked extremely well together. Without all of you I would be out of the sheep business.
- I would also like to thank my wife Katie and son Ethan (9 months) for helping out. Ethan was on hand to keep the work crew in order for me. Also Jorge and Garcia (two herders) worked themselves into the ground doing the worming for us. Those two guys have done a wonderful job on the allotment this year. We lost very few lambs and the rest are huge. I am sure we have some Smut-faced lambs that are over 130lbs. Lambs only get that big when the herders are doing their job keeping the predators away and keeping the lambs on fresh feed. Thank you for your hard work boys.
- Directions to the allotment from Portland, OR.
I84 east to Pendleton, OR
Hwy 11 north (sign says Milton Freewater / Walla Walla, WA) Go past Athena, OR.
After Athena you will go down a hill and under a bridge, on the top of the next hill you will see an exit for Hwy 204 (Tollgate/Elgin) Once on 204 go up the mountain until you come to Lincton Mountain Rd (turn left) There will be a big log-cabin restaurant with a blue metal roof on your left.
It is a sharp left turn, almost a U turn. Once you are on Lincton Mountain rd. Go up the hill and when the road turns to gravel you should be able to see the sheep corrals up on your right hand side. Park across the road and a little further down on the left side of the road. There is a flat spot there.
If I am not there when you get there, feel free to look around. Please be careful not to allow your dogs to chase the sheep, it would be best to keep them on a lease or very close to your side. We have several LGDs up there and until they are comfortable with your dogs they will be checking them out.
We are looking for volunteers. We will be vaccinating our sheep, sorting lambs and hauling sheep off the mountain allotment start on the 18th of Aug. It has been a hot dry summer in the mountains and the sheep are looking for greener pastures. I am looking for anyone that would like to come out and give us a hand. The current schedule is as follows:
Aug. 18th Worm all sheep. This means we will be working all 2100 sheep through a set of yards (corrals). This will be an all day event starting at first light in the morning. This will be great dog work in close pens.
Aug. 19th. Normal day of herding sheep on open range. Would be a fun day for anyone to experience herding over 2100 sheep in a band.
Aug. 20th Sort lambs off their mothers and haul them to the grass-circle. Again, this will be a lot of pen work.
Sept. 1st Hauling the ewes off the mountains and down onto circles.
We will provide coffee and a smile each morning and a quick lunch each afternoon.
Thank you for your help and I hope you are well.
We are located about 25 miles North of Pendleton OR.
- I have posted a couple new pictures from the allotment today. All the grass is dead as could be down here in the valley but it is green and tall up there. It looks great. The lambs look great. I also posted a picture of our transfer herder.
- I tended camp for Jorge and Garcia yesterday. They are getting ready to come down off the mountain. They have been up there for months now and the hard schedule is getting to them. However the lambs are really nice and fat. Jorge keeps telling me that Garcia wants to go back to CA. I guess his shepherding job down there was very easy compared to being up in the mountains here. They don't take their sheep to the mountains down in CA. They make small pastures for them on the alfalfa fields all summer long. All the herder has to do it move a little bit of fence each day to make the next pasture and then go back to his camper and watch DVDs. Sounds like a good life for the herder but a complete waste of money for the rancher. We expect our herders to be with the sheep all the time. Even if they are just sitting there watching them. This is the only way to prevent predation on our sheep. When Garcia arrived here, he only had two small bags. He has run out of clothing up on the mountain and I have had to buy him more. He just was not prepared for the hard work of shepherding sheep on open range in the mountains. Garcia has not left the sheep and does what he is told so I cannot hold that against him.
- I have been driving semi-truck hauling wheat for my neighbor. It is wheat harvest season now and the farmers here need all the help they can get. It is a dusty, hot job (has been over 100 degrees everyday) and the truck I am driving doesn't have any air-conditioning. I work Sunday - Wednesday and tend camp on the days I am not driving truck. I drink a ton of water everyday. Even with the windows down in the truck the wind feels like somebody is holding a hot blow-drier on your face.
- Now that we have high-speed internet again. I uploaded a short video of Ethan. CLICK HERE to see it on youTube.com.
- We have sent all of Gale's pups from her second litter to their new homes. Don Helsey, Nancy Obernier, Joe Hanse, and Lavon Calzacorta all got pups from this litter. I don't have all the puppy names back yet but the ones I know are: We named our female, Ally. Don/Gennie Helsey named their male, Grit. Nancy Obernier named her male, Glenn. I haven't heard back from Lavon or Joe yet. If you guys read this, please email me the names and you current contact info. so I can get the papers in. CLICK HERE to contact me.
- As I said before, nobody transfers their best herder and the four that are out there to be transferred to me don't sound very good. So, I am going to bring a guy over from Peru. This means two things: One, I will have to teach him a lot of things but more importantly he will be hungry to work hard and learn. He is coming from Jorge's home ranch and is in his early 40s. Young herders can work but they are also kind of hard to deal with sometimes. I hope this guy works out so I can keep him for a permanent position.
- I have a couple meetings up north to talk about what circles will be available this year for feeder lambs. I am hoping to bring in at least 3000 feeder lambs if not a few more. If we get circles on two different ranches we may need to bring in a third herder to look after them. I am working on getting all these old Pickups running so we have enough water-trucks for the different places we may have lambs. My white Ford (flatbed work truck) just started an oil leak. It is a diesel so I expect it to leak oil but this was a huge leak that just couldn't be overlooked. I found the leak but am not a good enough mechanic to pull apart a newer diesel engine. So, I took it over to a local mechanic I trust to fix it right and cheap. With the White Ford being down, I had to take the 1978 2wheel drive Chevy pickup up to Jorge on the mountain and swap it for my 1994 Chevy diesel work truck. Well, the 1994 diesel Chevy needed two new tires and a front-end alignment. Jorge ran this truck into a ditch last winter and the steering is way off now. Now I have the 1994 Chevy at home with two new tires and am heading to the shop in a couple minutes to get the front-end aligned. I just hope they don't find anything broken and cannot align it. The 1982 Blue Ford Diesel that Jorge drove last winter now has no brakes and needs a new master cylinder. I can replace this on my own if I can figure out how to get the truck home. I keep saying that some day I will sell all these old trucks and buy one brand-new one. We always need at least two running pickups on this place. It is better to have three. So when you get the first one stuck someplace you have a spare and when that one breaks down on you, you have a spare for the spare.
- When I took the 1978 White Chevy to Jorge I decided to take him for a ride around the allotment that he had not herded sheep on before. I wanted to do this to show him the water points that I had found in the past. Everything was going well and we did find some bear tracks at one of the watering point, not a surprise on this allotment. On the way back up the steep gravel logging road the old 2WD Chevy pickup blowout a front tire and at the same time caught a rock under the A-arm. That send us all flying up into the air hitting our heads on the roof. It was funny and hurt all at the same time. I limped the truck up the steep grade and parked on the side of the logging road. I brought a new (used) tire up the next day and changed it over. Jorge was happy to have a new tire on his the truck. I didn't tell him it was used.
- I told Jorge that he has to get his license this fall when we are on the circles if he wants to get extra pay. He seems to think it will be easy.
- I just returned home from a truck-driving interview. I had a hay-making job lined up down in Lexington, OR but the equipment they had all broke down on me within a couple days. They have a guy that lives on the ranch that has his own hay-making machines and he is going to finish the hay-making job. This is bad for me since I had not taken other side jobs because I thought I was going to be making hay for a few weeks down there.
- The farier came out this morning to pull the shoes off of my horse Ginger (she has a bad abscess in one of her front feet and needs to heal up before I can put her back in service, I don't know if having the shoes on, she has never had shoes on before, caused the abscess but it is there and she is in pain). He mentioned he knew a guy that needed a truck driver to haul wheat for him for a couple weeks. I got his number and met him today. It will be for only four days a week but the little money I will make always helps. There is always something to be done around here but it usually costs money to get it done. It is true that most ranchers don't have enough money to just ranch, we do everything and anything we can to keep our ranches going.
- The other good thing about working for a local guy is that you get to know one more person in your small community. I take any chance I get to meet other ranchers around here. Once you know them and they know you are a hard-working person, they may help you with other things like finding sheep feed or turning you onto somebody that is a good person to deal with or more importantly turning you away from the people that are out to strew you over. When you have not grown up in a place it is very important to figure out who you can work with and who you just got to deal with. If somebody can help you avoid making a bad business deal before it happens, you are much better off.
- Very hot and getting hotter. I am hot on the trail of a new herder for us. The transfer herder I have right now has to go back to CA on Sept. 1st. That means I have about 6 weeks to get a new transfer or a herder from Peru. I prefer transfer herders because the cost is a lot less but, nobody transfers their best herder.
- Just got home yesterday from Wisconsin. Katie and I took Ethan out to meet his cousins and his grandfather for the first time. It was a week that we will all remember, except Ethan I don't think he will remember anything from his life this early. ;-)
- I milked my first cow. Just like a sheep but much bigger and more milk. My father has been milking in the new milking parlor he built for a couple years now. I told him just got into dairying at just the right time and then the mild price took a dump. Lucky for him he is a grazing dairy so he can keep his costs low. Also he sells his milk for cheese making, therefore he gets a better price then most liquid milk sellers. He milks a mixed herd of Cheese type cows (Jersey, Gernsey, and Ashire) and Holsteins.
- My father milks 24-30 cows twice a day, makes all his own hay, and helps my mother run her office cleaning business by cleaning two office buildings each night. My mother supports the dairy, takes care of my two young nieces, feeds the calves and then heads off to clean 3-4 office buildings each night. Did I mention that both of my parents are heading into their 60s soon.
- While I was away. I got a call from Cameron G. who was tending camp for me. It seems that the new temp herder drove my 4wheeler off a 1500' cliff. The herder was fine, thank God, but my 4wheeler is now in two pieces. I just put a new motor in it and four new tires. Did I mention that 4wheeler is a 2006. Just three years old. Like I said, thank God nobody was hurt. Cameron took the herder to the doctor anyway just to make sure he was OK. I went to tend camp today and talk to the Garcia (the temp herder) about what happened. He said he had never ridden my 4wheeler before and got confused with the brakes while turning around on the narrow road. When it started down the slope he jumped clear and the bike went on a 1500' free-ride. It broke into two pieces. Just like the movies I guess. To make things worse, I took the insurance off this bike because it was costing too much and I figured it was so beat-up there was nothing left the herders could possible do to it to make is any worse. I was wrong.
- Just got the Rambouillet rams moved over to the same pasture as the Suffolk rams. They needed to move to new pasture, down to the foxtails. Cameron is going to shear my rams next week. I will move them down to his ranch in Pilot Rock tomorrow. I wish I could be here to help him but I will be back in Wisconsin helping my father on his farm. He hasn't seen Ethan (our baby) yet. I am excided for him to see Ethan. I am also looking forward to seeing all the changes he has done on his farm. Since I left, he has converted the entire thing over to a dairy and sold all of his sheep and beef cattle. I have not been home to Wisconsin in over five years. "Don't forget where you come from."
- I am currently working with Don Helsey and Patrick Shannahan to get a sheep-camp (Herding dog training clinic) setup for the third weekend in October. If things go as planned we will be doing a four day clinic (two days with each trainer). It will be located down in Lexington, OR. We will have 200 ewes available for the clinic.
- Thank you to all of you that have purchased Livestock Guardian Dog pups from Nine or Jenny and Border Collie pups from Gale's Second littler. We currently have all the pups sold. We are keeping back one female from Gale's Border Collie litter. We are keeping two males from Nines litter of Livestock Guardian Dog pups. We will most likely have a couple yearling male Livestock Guardian Dogs for sale come this fall, after we leave the mountains. If you are interested in one of these experienced dogs, please contact me now so can I hold one for you. Nothing makes me happier then to be able to provide quality working dogs to the people that need them.
- I sold Bobby (2yo Border Collie) to my friend Lou M. of Idaho Clear Skies Sheep Company.. He has been looking for a BC that he could work on his ever-growing flock. It looks like Lou is expanding very rapidly so he will need a reliable dog to help him get his sheep gathered a moved. He also bought a couple of LGDs from us. I am driving up to Lewiston-Clarkston on Monday to deliver them.
- I tended camp yesterday and Jorge said he had a close encounter with another bear. That is two different bears within a week. I guess the bear was waiting by the water for the sheep to come for a drink. Jorge said the LGDs are working their butts off at night. I got a call from somebody on the mountain last weekend, I had two LGDs up by the road. They were on the trail of something the night before and got a little lost by morning. I talked to Jorge and he said they found their way back to the sheep. Lucky for me the guy that called me knew a little about open-range sheep herding so once he figured out by my voicemail that the dogs belonged to a sheep co. he told the other people there to scare the dogs so they headed back in the direction of the band. The dogs were not bothering anyone but I guess some drivers stopped on the road because they thought the dogs would get hit. Those dogs must have really been onto something for them to get that far away from the sheep. When I was herding my sheep in the mountains, I know that those dogs would get onto something and I could hear them across on the next spur. They would be gone for hours at a time. They seem to leave at least one dog back with the band. It seems the younger dogs go out on these hunts and the more experienced dogs tend to stay back with the sheep and cover the rear-flank.
- I also went with Cameron to tent his camps. I like seeing other operations whenever I can. There are not many of us around so when I get a chance to go checkout somebody else's operation I always do. It is amazing the ideas you can pickup just by seeing how others do things. I usually don't change things just because we do things different from somebody else but I do pay attention and steal the good ideas. Sheepherders are the most inventive people I have ever seen. The solutions they come up with are amazing. I guess they have a lot of time to think about it.
- Cameron has a band of sheep up on a part of his allotment he has not had sheep in a long time. The herder was saying that he ran into four bears up there. Cameron has a couple nice Anatolians he got from Skye. I am going to try to get Nine, bred to one of them. They are very tall and thin. They look like good dogs for running down Coyotes. We will see if they can run down a bear.
- You really don't want to let the bears get to a point were you are coming head-to-head with them. If your LGDs will work away from the sheep a little they can usually keep the bears back. However, once you get a bear that has killed a lamb on you in the past, they learn very quickly how to wait and ambush your sheep. Our allotment has so many bears on it that we are always having to play defense. However, we have two herders with our sheep so one can always be ahead of the band to scare off any bears.
- One of the biggest issues on the mountains is that you cannot get an accurate count on your sheep. You can count your marker sheep but you never really know unless you come upon a carcass if a predator is really getting into you. I usually like our sheep to get spread out a little so they can all get plenty of feed. If you herd them too tight they may not be gaining a much as they would otherwise. If you know there is a predator around, you will herd the sheep tighter in order to prevent any problems. You will also avoid areas that you think would put you in contact with a predator. All of these things could adversely affect your gains. From the time the ewes get bred, to the time the lambs get weaned I am always thinking about putting the most weight on as possible. That means keeping the ewes fat when they are pregnant (within reason, if your ewes are too fat, that can have big problems for you at lambing time). It really kicks in once the lambs hit the ground. Ewes are just like dairy cows the more they eat, the more milk they make. When we are on the mountain we are constantly moving our sheep to keep the best feed up to them. However, when you are worried about predation your options may become more limited and your herding more tight, upsetting the sheep more and therefore decreasing your gains. A happy sheep is one that is full by noon, sleeps most of the day, doesn't have to walk far for water, has plenty of shade and is relaxed (isn't on the alert because they feel safe). The herder's job is to make these things happen for the sheep, my job is to keep the herder happy and equipped to do his job.
- We have sold all of Gale's pups from her second litter. Thank you to all the inquired. Please contact me if you would like me to contact you if/when we breed her again. CLICK HERE to email me.
- Three of Gale's pups go home today. We are heading up to Sue Wessels's trial to meet up with Don Helsley. Don is taking two males and the third male is going to his new home next week. It will be very sad to see them leave. They have been coming up to the house and playing with all the older dogs. I know they will grow up to be fantastic sheepdogs some day.
- Katie's Mom and her sister Trudy were here this week. Some of you know Trudy, she trains dogs over on the west-side near Vancouver, WA. Trudy was going to run her Australian Shepherd, Tic at Sue Wessels' trial. It seems Tic got injured so she decided not to run her. As far as I know Trudy is the only person running Australian Shepherds in ABCA trials. I wish I had some sheep-work for her and her dogs but all the sheep, accept the rams are on the mountain.
- Speaking of the rams, I had to move the Suffolk rams to new pasture. They were pushing under the cattle panels in the pasture they are currently on. I got a phone call that one of the rams was standing in the road. I guess the guy that lives there put him back into the pasture and by the time we went back up to his house the ram was back out on the road. The only way that ram could get out would be to slip under a 1' gap at the bottom of the panel. This ram is well over 300lbs and his back is up past my waist. This is a big boy to be pushing under such a small gap. That is the number one problem with Suffolks, they are just too smart for their own good. They are like goats when it comes to fences. Mick is all healed up now so I ran home and hooked onto my goose-neck trailer and grabbed Mick out of his kennel. We sorted off the Suffolk rams from the Rambouillets. These rams have been running together for a few months now so it wasn't easy to get them to sort. Mick is a little rusty on the "International Shed". By the time we were finished he was back to his old self.
- It is getting to be about time to shear the rams. Anyone out there that wants to come help me with this task is more then welcome. Shearing rams is usually a circus for sure. Having to tip over 300+lbs rams is not fun.
- I brought Buck (Male Border Collie) home for a few days vacation. He has been doing a great job up on the mountains. Now that we have two herders with the sheep we can rotate the BCs home every 3-4 days. I may keep Buck home for a little longer. He has gotten thin. His feet are still very good and his attitude is very happy-go-lucky. I am tending camp every 3-4 days now. Last year I tended camp every 7 days. Having two herders out there I need to bring more food more often. I like to keep the cooler full of ice for the herders as well as keeping them with fresh fruit, milk, eggs, and chicken. I freeze everything I can at the ranch before I take it out to the camp. This adds more days onto the food. Since the herders now have a base-camp (Jorge's trailer) and are sleeping in a tent next to the sheep each night, I have started to buy foods that can be mobile and that they can prepare with no heat or prepare during the lunch-hour and take with them for eating at the tent that night. I also make sure to provide them with lots of cold (frozen in 1gal jugs at the ranch) drinking water. The water they use for bathing is provided in several 7gal jugs and is not frozen. My friend Skye has very good system for tending camp. He has a 100gal tank in the back of his truck. It is filled with drinkable well-water. His herders all have sealable water containers at their camps and just fills them up every 3-4 days when he tends camp. He provides Ice for keeping things cool in bags. His herders, like most around here, stay in camps and the camps have to be moved every 3-4 days by pickup. The first year I herded my own sheep we moved our camp every time and it was a huge pain in the neck. Now that we have the herders tent camping with the sheep, I don't think we would have it any other way. They can hear much more at night and it takes only a couple minutes to move the tent. You can move the tent without any vehicles at all and set it up in places that you would never get a camp to. This has opened up lots more range to our sheep. Also the sheep don't have be pushed back to a central point each night. They are brought up to the top of a ridge and allowed to bed-down. Our lambs are looking very good. Jorge thinks we will have a truckload of fats to ship off the mountain in Sept. I am not sure about that. The Suffolk lambs that are singles are huge by now and filling out very well. However, a fat lamb is over 135lbs and a body score 3.5 or better.
- Here is a copy of Gale's Reg. The first few lines anyway.
Rusty Child's Brad (Rusty's Pete-Karen Longmeier's Liz) (Bill Berhow's Nick-Tom Reilly's Kate) ((Jon Carter's IMP Tiff- Bob Copeland's IMP Val))
Rusty Child's Nell (Morgen Magnuson's IMP. Cap-Ray Coapman's @Sally) (DD Brick's Scot- Pauline Thomas's Jan) ((Jim Battles IMP Nap-Jim Battles IMP. Fly))
- I have posted new photos of Gale's pups, CLICK HERE to see them. We still have one male pup left for sale.
- Busy first day at home. I put new brakes on the front of the Ford. I also put four new tires on that truck. The ones I bought from Wal-mart were crap. I put Toyos on now. I hope they hold up, the price was very high. I need good tires to tent camp. There are a lot of rocks. Last year I blew out two tires and had Katie with me. She was pregnant at the time and it wasn't fun.
- I burned one of five slash-piles in the backyard. The Campbells came down in the spring and cut down a lot of trees that were dead.
- It is very hot down here in the valley. I spoke to a lamb buyer today. I guess I need to start thinking about contracting my lambs. I will do a closed bid again this year. I think it is the most fare way of doing it. I will contract them for December 1st delivery FOB (at the corrals). This is unless we have fat lambs coming off the mountain. I am not hoping for fat lambs on the mountain because our allotment is so steep. I think the lambs have to work a little too hard for the feed to come off in August as fats (at least 135lbs).
- We now have two herders with the band. I set the rules down that at least one had to be with the sheep 24 hours a day. They will be tent camping. I put shoes on Ginger (horse) so I could check on the herders without the pickup.
- Gale's pups are growing so fast. They are all very outgoing. They come right out to see me when I check on them. They are investigating the area around the kennel a little more each day. Before too long, they will be on the front porch with their mother. I love to watch the pups mature and their personalities start to come out.
- I spoke to Ryan's new boss yesterday. He said Ryan is doing OK and hasn't left the sheep. I guess he took too many lambs as bummers one day but has since been sorted out by his new boss. They are pasture-lambing and without a lot of experience it can be hard to see a bummer from a lamb that has a mother. I hope Ryan doesn't let him down since I recommend him.
- Ethan (our baby) is ready to start working I think. He is close to 25lbs on his 6month birthday. He is a very good boy. He really loves his mother and gets a little worried if Katie or I am out of sight for more then 30 seconds.
- Holy finished hauling. So, the hauling is more or less finished for the summer. I will take on any other jobs that come my way but for the most part, the sheep and cattle or done. I am looking to haul some hay this summer in addition to doing the haying for Pachy down in Ione.
- I am also working on getting a couple clinics and trials put together for Pachy's ranch down in Ione. She has 300 plus replacement ewes down at the ranch for the summer. They are going to make fantastic sheep to work with. I have spoken to Don Helsely and Dave Viklund about doing lessons down there. If you are interested please CONTACT ME. I am also looking for other trainers that may be interested in working down in Ione, OR for lessons, etc. The ranch down there is perfect for dog trialing/training and the sheep will be great for working large or small groups. These are Targhee range sheep. Good experience for any dog.
- We got another herder in yesterday to help Jorge on the mountain. We have a big band this year, lots of lambs, and it will take two herders to keep them moving and keep them safe. The new herder is a transfer from CA and seems to be keen on working in the mountains.
- It looks like we will be adding another allotment to our current summer mountain range next year. I have to get final approval from the BLM but things look good at this point. If this does go through I will be looking to expand to two bands of sheep. I just hope the price of lamb holds up.
- We managed to get our wool sold. The price was down some from last year but we came out OK on the deal.
- I am starting to put together my fall-winter grazing plan. I spoke to a couple farms we did test-grazing for last year and they are as happy as could be with how well the grass is growing this spring. So, I hope to be able to expand our feeder-lamb project as well.
- Holy Cow hauling. We just hauled pairs (cows and calves) for three days straight. Krebs Sheep Co. also have 350 cows they take to the mountains each spring. Cameron, Kail, Clanton and I hauled for three days straight. It was a marathon to be sure. Loading by 5am each morning and not home until 7pm or 8pm each night. Make truck and trailer repairs, eat, and sleep. Then up at 4am and do it all over again. This was the very first time I hauled cows on my "sheep" trailer. I got away with only one broken gate in the deal. I mostly hauled calves. But the last load I had a handful of cows on my step and top-deck. I pulled all the sheep-decks. The broken gate was my fault. I had three cows that I should have been in one panel but I let them stay in a double panel. They just had too much room.
- I am back at the ranch tonight. It is 97degrees here and too hot to sleep.
- Jorge is doing well with my sheep on the mountains. I have a second herder coming next week. The bears are already putting pressure on the sheep up there and since our band is huge, over 1000 ewes and over 1200 lambs, he needs help to keep the bears away and the sheep on good feed. I was going to split the band this year but didn't have a second herder to take the second band. Next year we are adding another allotment and will be looking for investors to expand our flock to two bands.
- For Sale: 2yo Register Border Collie. $1200 He will make a great farm or trial dog for ANYONE. I do mean ANYONE. A child could work Bobby with no problem. He is a fantastic sheepdog but is gun shy. He has been with us since he was a pup. He is two years old now. He is working in the mountains this summer and also worked last summer in the mountains and on the stubble fields. It will not take much training to start trialing him. He is a natural out runner and can gather the entire band out of a 500 acre field by himself. Contact me, Eric 541 215 9109 or firstname.lastname@example.org
- Holy Sheep Hauling, I have been hauling sheep for the past three days straight and I am ready for some food and sleep. We hauled my band to the Mountain, thank God, instead of having to take them home. Then I helped haul the last band of Krebs ewes the next day and finally we hauled one of Cameron's bands today. We load out at first light. For those of you that have normal lives, that is at 5am right now. It take about 1 hour per truck to load up and depending on the truck, almost as long to unload. We hauled Krebs sheep up to the top of a long Mountain on an old dirt logging road. I don't have a CB in my truck, you need a CB in your truck whenever you are on logging roads with actual log-trucks on those roads. The log-trucks are on a clock and don't mess around. If you don't know they are coming you can get pushed off the road. My Sheep-trailer is VERY long at 50' with no tuck. The livestock haulers reading this will know what that means, for the rest of us, it means I cannot take sharp corners. My trailer is just too long. So, I am hauling 80,000lbs up a one lane mountain road with log-trucks trying to kill me and a truck that only barely makes it around each sharp corner. No air-con in this truck so the window open and dust in my nose-hairs. I am not complaining of course, Kail Krebs and Cameron have hauled many a mile for me and I thank them.
- I haven't heard from Ryan's new boss, so I am guessing he is doing OK. I assume Dave D. would call me if he wasn't getting along.
- We are bring in another professional herder. I hope to have him here next week. After we loaded my sheep and got a current count, I realized that Jorge was herding the biggest band of sheep I have ever seen. Our lambing was very good this year and he has a ton of smut-faced lambs to look after. We took almost 6 full semi-loads of sheep the the allotment. I think he deserves some extra help in the mountains. I would jump at that chance to stay in the mountains this summer but my wife doesn't agree that I need to be a full-time herder again.
- I want to say Thank You to our spring Intern. Ryan. Ryan has taken a fulltime shepherding job with a Cattle/Sheep operation out of Washington. I drove him up to his new home/job yesterday. I have known the people he will be working for. They have not had good luck with finding willing/able help this past year. I hope they find Ryan to be a good worker and stable.
- We are now seeking a new Intern. for the summer.
- We are also seeking an assistant Shepherd to go with Jorge to the Mountain allotment this summer. We have a big job up on the allotment this year. We would like to have two people herding. CONTACT ME if you are interested in either of the two positions we have available.
- Gale's pups are getting very big now. Their eyes are open and they are able to push themselves around the whelping box. She is a very good mother. She has full access to the ranch during the day with all of the other dogs in their kennels. I think she knows she is the queen of the ranch. We are keeping the female pup and Don Helsley is taking two males.
- It is now coming down to the wire. I have a meeting on the 20th to find out if we can turn out onto the Mountain Allotment on the 21st. If he doesn't allow us to turn out on the 21st. We will then have to haul all the sheep back to the ranch we rent. Once we do that we will be at the ranch for 2-3 weeks before hitting the mountains. I really am not holding out much hope to be able to go to the allotment at this point. It will mean hauling the sheep twice and setting up corrals twice, etc, etc. This is the same thing that happened to us last year. The cold spring never let us onto the allotment on time. The grass back here at the ranch is not very good at this point. Most of it is headed-out and getting tough so the sheep will not want to eat it. I told Jorge that we would most likely be going back to the ranch instead of the Mountain and he didn't seem very happy about that. The fences at the ranch are not for sheep and like I said, the grass is not very palatable at this point, so the sheep can be difficult to herd.
- If you would like to come help us load sheep on the 21st. Please CONTACT ME.
- Gale has whelped her second litter. CONTACT ME to reserve you pup. Registered pups from a powerful stud owned by Don Helsey. 4 males and 1 female.
- We have the hole band back together again. I trucked the ewes with singles down to Pendleton, OR on 04-28-09. The sheep have feed up to their knees.
- I drove the water truck, full, down to Pendleton today. I took all the back-roads and it took us 3 hours. That is a long time to take 5000gal of water to the sheep.
- As of today we are officially out of the lambing camp. I hauled the last handful of ewes and lambs down to Pendleton, OR. Randy (owner of the stubble we graze) had some stubble down off the highway. We moved the ewes with twins down there last Wed 04-15-09. Cameron came over and hauled a load for me. The feed down there on those fields is just fantastic. I was watching it when Randy first offered it and I thought no feed would come up. But it got into the mid. 70s and the grass just jumped out of the ground. I had those ewes and lambs on full feed and even on full-feed they look much better being on grass.
- I put the herder's horse, Ginger out with that handful of ewes (50) and their lambs for about a month. She actually bonded to those sheep and was very upset when I moved them off. I will take her down to Pendleton tomorrow. She really hates dogs so we will see how she does wit the LGDs.
- Our best and most experienced female Guard Dog had another litter of pups. They are out of Trooper, our best male. This is not a good time for us to have a litter of pups on the ground. I hope to get them sold before we hit the mountains. Contact me email@example.com if you are interested in one. I will make you a good deal if you can pickup your pup before June 1st. We have all males.
- I transferred Jose to another ranch in Montana. I brought Jorge, back to the lambing camp so he could spend some time with Jose before he left. I think he appreciated it. I brought Jose in on Jorge's' suggestion. Jose is Jorge's half brother. Jose was a good herder and I wish him well. He is very happy to be here in the US and now continuing his contract with another ranch.
- Our current intern. Ryan is out with half the band on stubble in the Dry Creek. He is learning a lot. He had no experience with working dogs and very little experience herding sheep. I started him off herding our ewes with twins in the lambing camp. It was behind fence but it was cow-fence so he did have some experience keeping them off the neighbors wheat. Now he has electric fence but the Suffolk lambs require a lot of herding to keep them from pushing through the fence and getting onto the wheat-crop.
- I am looking for another intern for this summer in the mountains. Contact me if you are interested firstname.lastname@example.org 541 215 9109
- I added some photos of us marking lambs. CLICK HERE to see them.
- My brother-in-law has updated his website. It looks very good. CLICK HERE to see it.
- Lambing is all but over. Still have about 30 hold-outs. We are going to be selling a couple dozen culls. Call me (541 215 9109) if you are interested in them. They would make good dog-training sheep for a while. I also have a few rams that need to be sold. These are older Rambouillet rams. The price will be right.
- We had a bit of a headache this morning. Ryan was on the early morning and part-night shift. He thought the ewes would mother up better if he left them out in the night-pen barn. They were under cover and he thought all the ewes were mothering well. He had been asking me about pasture lambing and he thought it had benefits for the mothering. I explained to him that pasture lambing can work and some people do it, however we jug lamb and I explained to him why. When I checked on the 7 ewes that were (pasture-lambing) in the other barn. I found a headache waiting for me. One ewe that had not even lambed yet, pushed off the first-time mothers of twins and was nursing 4 lambs. The young mothers left and went back to the night-pen with the other ewes that had not lambed. Long story, short, it took Jose and I, an hour to sort out who was whos' lamb and I am still not 100% sure we got all them into the correct jug with the correct mother. Most of our experienced ewes can lamb out on pasture if the weather is nice. But, we have 200 first-time mothers (both ewe-lambs and yearlings) that are lambing right now. We are at the back of the band, this is when the ewe-lambs start to lamb. This makes for much confusion with the young ewes when you have several sets of twins and a mix of experienced ewes and none. It is not uncommon for a really hyper-mothering ewe to steal lambs from one that is also trying to mother. This is why, I explained to Ryan again, we put the ewes in their own jug as soon as the lamb hits the ground and is cleaned off. I will often put a ewe-lamb into the jug as soon as I see she is going into labor. After all of this he gets the "why" behind jug lambing.
- Right now Ryan is up on the hill shepherding the twins. We have them out on graze but the fence requires a fulltime shepherd. He doesnít have any dog experience but the young dog he is using, Buck, is giving him all the experience he can handle right now. I let him use Gale in the morning but we just did a repeat breeding of her to Don Helseyís Cap. I donít want her working too much on the steep hills were the sheep are grazing. Mick will only work for me, so that is not an option and the only other dog, Bobby, has decided he doesnít like Ryan for some reason. This is one of Joseís dogs and Jose is happy that Bobby is being selective in his boss. All of this doesnít help Ryan much. Jorge is up on the pasture with the singles, so Dose and Greg are with him. I know Greg would work for Ryan but Jorge is much like Jose, protective of the good dog in the pack. This is the age old story, when you think you have too many dogs, you donít have enough.
- Big day today. We marked (castrate, dock tails, first shot of CD&T, ear-tag) the twins today. We still have about a 100 ewes to lamb out but I want to stop adding to the twins group so it will level off and the lambs get big enough to truck to the pasture we are fencing for them. Thanks to everyone who came out to help us. Without friends these big jobs wouldnít get done so fast. In years past we always waited to mark lambs until they were a couple months old. This helped our ram-lambs add a little extra weight. The problem however with letting your lambs get so big is that somebody had to pickup each lamb and move it to different stations. This proved to be a huge task that took itís toll on the herders. After picking up 500, 35lbs each, they were not very useful the next day. Last year, Jorge could barely lift his arms. So, we did the marking in the lambing camp and just before the lambs are to head out onto pasture. This made the herders much happier. We also had two different smaller bands of 500 ewes so we could mark the singles last weekend and do the twins this weekend. The ewes that now come through the barn will be kept apart from the twins group and we will mark them just before we take them to pasture as well. I know it may seems like a lot of messing around to mark lambs in 3-4 different groups but I think that lambs are healthier for it. I also noted that marking the lambs this early, we donít seems to have a problem with flies. We still use a LOT of fly-repellent on the areas that have been banded. I noticed that Sky marked his lambs early in the season as well.
- With the singles gone we are able to cut back the amount of hay we are having to feed out. This will help us keep the twins back in the lambing camp for a week longer. This is the first year we kept the singles away from the twins and I like it so far. It does take more man-power to run two smaller bands of sheep, however I can see that the twins are doing better. We can feed more hay to the twins and the ewes donít have to fight off the big singles when they are nursing their lambs. We could also keep the twins in smaller groups after they left the jugs and keep them back in those smaller groups for a longer period of time.
- We trailed the singles up to the stubble today. It was about 500 ewes and 500 lambs. Trailing this year went much better then past years only because we had half as many sheep and there was stubble on both sides of the road instead of wheat. We also had a fence on one side of the road for a good portion of the trail. Most fences are cow-fence and will not hold a sheep but it does make them stop and take notice. It was myself, Jorge, Jose and Ryan our new intern. Ryan is from Michigan and did a little herding in eastern Europe. He has no experience with dogs or lambing in jugs. He hasnít been here for a full week yet.
- We have 740 ewes through the barn at this point. The lambing rate has dropped down to 5-10 per day. We had 5 ewes come into the barn last night. We are getting Rambouillet lambs now. I expect any hard-breeders will be finishing up over the next two weeks. Our lambing percentage is holding strong a 150%. The singles from the beginning of lambing are huge. I cannot wait to get out on graze.
- It looks like we may have a new intern coming. I will have him keep a log as well.
- As of today we are half way done with lambing. We have over 500 ewes through the barn and our percentage is holding strong at 150%. All of the lambs have been smut-faced so I am very happy. We should have heavy lambs coming off the mountains this year. Last year we didn't have nearly as many smut-faced lambs as I wanted. But my Suffolk rams were two years old this year and we bucked starting in the mountains and left only the Suffolks in for the first two weeks. I expect to see some Rambouillet lambs coming in the next few days. Once the Rambouillet rams got in there I don't expect to see many smut-faced lambs after that. The Suffolk rams just don't compete with Rambouillets. I am going to buy in replacement ewes next year so I wanted as many smut-faced lambs as possible.
- Katie sold her Nissan Pickup and bought a Subaru wagon. I am very happy about that. I never really liked her pickup and I love Subaru wagons. I had two of them when I lived on the Westside.
- Call me if you want to come out for marking lambs. We will mark our lambs before they head out to the stubble this year. Last year we waited two months and the lambs were so big that the herders broke their backs to lift them. 541 215 9109
- We started lambing yesterday with 5 early lambers. They all had singles. This is not uncommon to have a handful of ewes lamb early. We are hauling the ewes home to the lambing camp on the 8th.
- We are getting prepared for lambing. It is right around the corner. Thanks to all of you who have contacted me regarding our lambing school/Internship. We are still looking for more people to come out and help. Please contact me if you are interested in coming out for a few days or a few weeks or few months. We will be happy to have you.
- I went out to check on my ewes yesterday. They are very, very fat and should have lots of twins. This will be their third lambing and into their prime. We did have three ewes with prolapse that needed to be fixed. The herder had fixed one a few days back but took the retainer out too soon. He figured she was fine. She relapsed. I think the problem was that he just moved the ewes onto some new grass. Also, we have not had as much SE90 salt available to them. They say Selenium helps with prolapse. They are now on free-choice SE90 salt with no non-treated salt available to them. We usually have 3-4 prolapsed ewes each year. I think it is just a part of having this many ewes and them getting so fat on the winter grass-circles. Since my ewes are sheared we have to use the prolapse harness on them. I get these from Premier One Sheep Co. They are expensive but work well for us. You can always make a harness yourself with string but these don't cut into the ewes skin like baling string.
- It looks like I will be making hay next summer. I haven't made hay since I was on my father's dairy. I wonder if anyone can suggest a good book to help get me back up to speed on the advancements in machines and also making hay on irrigated ground. My dad sent me a haymaking magazine but I would like more in-depth information. It looks like I will be making two-string bales. This is the same as we made on my dad's place until I left and he got a round-baler. We had a standard two-sting baler with a bale wagon. It took at least two people to bale, one to drive the tractor, one to stack the bales on the wagon and perhaps a third to help stack if you needed to get done quickly. We would then haul the hay to the barn and stack it in the loft. I am hoping to get a harrow-bed to gather the bales so I can do just about all the haying myself. Anyway, if you know of a good modern book, CONTACT ME.
- I rebuilt the lamb-bus-wagon. It is the wagon we pull behind the 4wheeler to bring ewes with their lambs back to the barn during the day. By the end of lambing last year it looked like it was pushed off a cliff. I put a new floor in it and added some re-enforcement to it. I bought it from Wal-Mart about three years ago and for being a Wal-Mart special it has done a good job so far. I have been looking for another wagon to replace it and found the cheapest was going to be $200. For $25 at Home Depot I was able to buy all the stuff I needed to rebuild it. As I am sure is true for most of us, times are hard and we need to save every penny.
- With much encouragement from my family (sister Heather) I have joined www.facebook.com. It has been fun looking up my old friends from High School. The problem is that I went to two different high schools in two different states so tracking them down is not easy. I did find several people from my sister's page that I knew and most, if not all, have kids. Most of them have several kids. I am starting to feel a little old after seeing all the kids my high school classmates have.
- I took Jorge with me to check on my ewes on the circles. Jose (Jorge's brother) is herding the ewes on the circles. The ewes are as fat as butter. We were not going to get through all the grass we had contracted so I made a deal with a friend of mine to bring in another 600 ewe-lambs and rams. With the snow, my ewes couldn't get to the grass to graze it off. This put us about 3 weeks behind. We can only stay on the circles until Feb. 15th before the farmers want us off. Not to mention I have to get my ewes back to the lambing camp before they start dropping lambs on the circles. I expect we will have a handful of ewes lamb on the circle, just to add a twist to an already busy time of the year.
- I took my Ford into the dealer today to try to get the heat working again. I have been driving it all winter without heat and it is not much fun. I got my Chevy out of the shop and hooked onto the sheep-trailer with it. Whenever I put fuel to the Chevy to climb a hill it start to shutter a bit. I am worried that the Chevy's days of doing heavy hauling are behind us and so getting the heat working in the Ford is more important.
- I have added a page for our shepherds. I put up pictures of our two current herders and a description of their jobs. CLICK HERE to see and read about them.
- Today was vehicle maintenance day. I had several tasks that need to be done on our trucks. I took the Semi into town to get two flats repaired. I also bought a new airline (supply side) for the truck. It got pulled off the truck when I made a tight turn. The shop fixed it but it was still leaking air. I bought a new line and replaced it entirely. Sometimes you just have to buy a new one...
- I also took the trailer wiring harness apart on my Chevy. I have been wanting to replace the female (truck-side) plug for over a year now. The lights would only work once in a while on it. I bought a new female plug and cut the old one off. It took me a few hours to get all the wiring going to the correct pins and the trailer (double-deck sheep trailer) lights working. I was happy once I got it finished. I have a set of emergency lights I built (magnetic, can switch them between trailers as needed). I wanted to get the actual lights working on the trailer. The emergency lights are great for swapping between herder-camps. I use this sheep trailer a lot and so felt it was important to have real working lights and maybe even trailer breaks.
- I have some hats that say Harlow Sheep Co. on them for sale. We got a few for us and have some extras if you are interested in one. CLICK HERE
- Don Helsley called me today to see if I wanted to repeat the breeding of Gale and his Cap. Get your name on the list now for the litter of pups. I know the pup we had, Jake, was one of the best dogs I have owned and the female he has is doing great and starting well.
- I have gotten my first website client. It has been a few years since I worked, for pay, on anyone's website. It is for a good friend of mine, Lou. His URL is www.clearskiessheepcompany.com, under construction. Please take a minute to check it out if you get a chance. I believe in clean design that is fast loading even on dialup connections. Most people interested in ranching type stuff are on ranches and have slow dialup connections. It would be nice to have HD photos on a website but it just don't work on dialup connections. I will post the first draft of Lou's website and you can watch as we improve it over the next few days/weeks.
- I need to sale some of our Livestock Guardian Dog puppies. Please contact me if you are somebody you know may need one or two or three. Eric: 541 215 9109
- I am looking for additional revenue streams. We are working hard to find ways for Katie to be able to stay at home with Ethan and that takes money. I still have lots of computer skills to offer and have decided to build a few websites this next few weeks for anyone who would like one. Email me if you are interested: email@example.com.
- Jorge and I got the sprinklers fixed at Rick W. house. That is were I had my rams for a few weeks. He has solid-set irrigation (put the irrigation lines in the ground and have sprinklers coming up out of the ground on PVC pipe). When I first brought the rams over to his place I never thought they would bother the sprinklers but it seems they were rubbing on them and snapping them off. After a couple weeks they took down a couple dozen and I decided to move the rams to pasture on the circles. Anyway, Jorge and I worked for a couple hours fixing all the broken ones and things are good there again. I also bought some small bales of hay from Rich so Jorge and I loaded my truck up and hauled them to the lambing camp. Rich has been very helpful, thank you. Rich bought another piece of ground a little ways away from his house and it is already fenced for sheep. It is a couple acres with water flowing through it. He said I could put my rams on it if I wanted to. Jorge and I checked the fence and it looks good enough for the rams. Rich also has a small paddock that has metal pipes in the irrigation so the rams will not be able to push them over. Once we are done on the circles we will put the rams down at Rich's house for a couple weeks then run them down the road to the other small pasture for the spring.
- Tomorrow I am going to get Jorge and head north to get the rest of the corral panels and the wool down here. I need to get my wool on a truck so we can get it on the market.
- The ewes are fat as butter on the circle. They have too much grass to get through and not enough time. The snow put us behind about three weeks. I am going to try to bring in another 1000 ewes if I can arrange it.
- We are looking for anyone who would like to come out for our lambing camp 2009. Contact me if you are interested. Eric: 541 215 9109 or firstname.lastname@example.org
- Jorge (herder) and I went to look over the spring pasture and make fencing plans. We have had a lot of snow on the wheat-stubble and it is looking very promising for our sheep this spring. Jorge has a long list of things he needs to get done in the next month before the sheep come down to the lambing camp.
- My old Chevy is back in the transmission shop waiting for another rebuild. I just hate it.
- The snow is finally gone from the grass that the ewes are on. I was worried it would never go away and we would have to bring them in and put them on hay until spring. That would have been bad.
- The feederlambs are gone. They are all gone. We shipped the contracted feederlambs on 12-27-08. They lost weight after the snow. I don't think I will take a contract next year that requires I shear the feederlambs. The non-sheared lambs (my lambs) gained .22lbs per day. The feeders that were sheared did half that. That means we didn't make much money on that deal.
- I finally got Jorge's camp down here from Odessa, WA. It was locked into 2 feet of snow. I got Katie's little 4x4 truck stuck with her and Ethan in it. Then James (one of the workers for the farm that owns the circle) came over to help us with his big Ford and we got that stuck. So, finally I went up to Jorge's camp and got a set of tire chains. We chained up Jame's Ford and got it out. Then Jorge and I walked back to his camp and chained up Jorge's Ford. I didn't think there was any way we would get out. Jorge's Ford is only 2wd. But with chains on it and Jorge with a shovel we managed to get his camper out of the snow and a mile down an unplowed road. I put lights on the camper but the adapter didn't work so we got pulled over by the police near Connell, WA. He made us stay the night in Connell, WA in Jorge's camper. I finally got him back to my house this morning. Katie and I had to run off to a meeting so Jorge got another vacation day.
- I have just returned from Jorge's camp near Odessa, WA. It snowed all day and we fed hay. If only I could find a website that could predict weather correctly.
- My Chevy (my old truck that I love) pulled another one on me. I just put a new transmission in it. When the guy changed the transmission he didn't put the wires away from the front driveshaft and so the Chevy ate them. All at once I lost over-drive and 4wheeldrive. When there is a foot of snow on the ground and you are trying to haul a bunch of hay, 4wheeldrive is very important. I felt it jerk and then the 4wd went out. I got under the truck and could see a ball of electrical wires wrapped around the front drive shaft. I limped the truck into Moses Lake looking for a shop. I started at the Chevy dealer, they were useless, no wonder they are going out of business. I then took it to a transmission shop and could only confirm my fears. I had only three forward gears and no 4wd until I get an entire new wiring harness. I am starting to loss my affection for that truck.
- Lucky for the sheep and me, Jorge's 1982 Ford Diesel with 2wd is a monster if you put chains on it. So, we put the chains on and he pulled a trailer full of corral panels out of 1.5ft of snow. I wouldn't believe it if I wasn't there. The feeder lambs are eating 2 ton of Alfalfa per day. I have put a lot of money into those lambs at this point. I just hope they gained some weight since I have had them.
- Everyone keeps saying this is a 25 year storm.
- My ewes are starting to do it hard. We have been feeding 1 ton of bluegrass straw per day but I think they are going to need some onions and Alfalfa soon. I just got a quote for Bluegrass straw of over $135 per ton. That is twice what is should be. However, when you need hay, you pay. Just try finding an extra bale of Pea-straw right now.
- Merry Christmas.
- I hate snow. It is the worst of all weather. We have over 18" on the ground at my house and about 6" on the ground by the feeder lambs and 7" were my ewes are suppose to be "grazing". Well no sheep is grazing right now, they are all on full feed and life is very expensive for a sheep farm when his sheep are eating hay. As you can tell, my mood is not good.
- Katie went with her mother to Portland, OR for the Xmas. I stayed back to buy hay and feed it out. Now, the road between here and Portland, OR is closed with no opening date in sight. It is looking like I will be spending my son's first Xmas with the herder. I am happy that she was able to make it to Portland, OR before the recent storm hit. Katie and Ethan will have a nice warm Xmas with family. Lucky for me, I know Ethan will not remember his first Xmas and me not being there. I bought him a Teddybear at Walmart today for his gift. I hate real bears but there is something sweet about seeing a kid holding onto his favorite stuffed animal.
- We did manage to ship out my feeder lambs I was holding back from the mountains. They average 108.8lbs. They were 87.7lbs coming off the mountain back in Sept. That means they gained about .20lbs per day. I feel really good about this since the last week they were here, it snowed and they had limited access to pasture. Who knows what they would have been if we would have gotten the trucks here last week to ship them out as we planed.
- I am currently feeding the feeder lambs 2-3lbs of Alfalfa per day to try to keep their weight from dropping into the crapper. I want to send a special thank you out to Troy Hartley of Hartley Produce, James and Daris Gross of the Hutterites. They have been selling me hay out of their own stack and being more helpful then I could ever ask.
- I spoke to Jose (herder) today and he said the ewes still have access to the graze if they dig a bit. I told him to keep feeding them hay. We are feeding them Bluegrass Straw. It is a very low quality hay and the sheep, in most cases, would rather graze then eat it. They don't mind sleeping on it however.
- Today is my birthday and I was trying to spend the day relaxing. We got a new intern working for us and he just called to tell me he broke the shifter off the Blue Ford pickup. I was just over there for two days fixing a leaking fuel-injection line. I also had to replace the starter in the other herd's truck. Life is always interesting.
- I am looking for a ride for two LGD puppies down to Redding CA or anywhere south of the Oregon border. EMAIL or Call me if you can do it. 541 215 9109 or email@example.com
- I have added the first pictures of Ethan. CLICK HERE to see them. Katie is doing fine. We are very happy. Ethan has a dark, curly, full head of hair. His checks are so big that it is hard to find his chin. He has a little celebrity in the baby ward at the hospital because he is so big. We thank Dr. K. and everyone at St. Mary's for being so attentive to Katie and the baby and shepherding us through all the new stuff that comes with having a new baby.
- Katie is scheduled for a c-section on Thurs. morning @ 6:30am. I will post photos as soon as I can.
- I just spoke to one of the wool-buyers from a local company. He suggests I hold onto my wool until Feb. Hopefully we will not be in a full-blown depression by then. It seems the Australian dollar has gone back down against the US dollar. This makes Australian wool more affordable for the international markets. Even our little ranch here in the middle of NE Oregon is dependent on International Trade.
- Shearing is done for the year. The wool prices are not great. I may hold onto my wool for a while if I can.
- Katie is going in for a c-section in the next two days. We are all very excited and a little worried.
- Thanks to all who came to help out during shearing. It was a great help to have you there.
- We start shearing the ewes tomorrow. It will take about 4 days to complete. If you are interested in helping out, please call my cellphone 541 215 9109.
- I have been offered cull onions for lambing but need to find out how may lbs of onions one pregnant ewe will eat in a day. I have read up to 50lbs per day. If that is the case, my ewes could eat one truckload per day. That is not very cost effective.
- Wanted: Wool handlers for Mid-November ewe shearing. We will start shearing on Nov. 14th 2008. It will take three days. Also volunteers to work the corrals (sheep yards) bring your working dogs. Call Eric 541 215 9109 or email me firstname.lastname@example.org
- I had my Hernia surgery last Tues. and it went fine. I couldn't really move around much for the first day or two. However, Katie and I wanted to look at some other ranches that were for sale so I had to power through. By day four, I needed to stop trying to do stuff, it was making things worse. I took the day, watched movies and relaxed. That made all the difference, the swelling went down and I felt good enough to tend camp yesterday. Sitting in a truck for a long time is really hard because it puts pressure on the spot were they cut open. Anyway, I am feeling better each day and today I got a little work done around the house.
- I also had a very productive meeting with a hay farmer yesterday. I picked up 5 more circles of timothy by Warden, WA to graze. He is a member of the Huderites colony there. He owns and rents several ranches in that area. He is a very nice guy and very helpful for getting things setup for the sheep to graze his circles. They put a lot of water back onto those timothy circles and so the grass is 6" high and very nice. I am thinking I will move my lambs onto a couple of the circles and the feeder-lambs onto the other circles once we are finished at Schafer farms. I can put Jorge in charge of all the lambs and move my ewes and Jose down to Plymouth, WA to a couple circles I have setup there. It is going to be hectic once it gets closer to Katie having the baby. I don't want to be gone all the time working. She is getting nervous.
- My old Chevy diesel is fixed and ready to be picked up. I am going to tow the other Chevy home and work on getting a new transmission for it. I bought a 5th wheel to gooseneck conversion kit for Jose's trailer. This way, I can get my old diesel Chevy back and park the white Ford. I get much better MPG with the diesel Chevy. I will put a gooseneck plate in the gas-Chevy when I get a transmission for it.
- Winter is coming, fall is here. The sun doesn't come up until after 7am and goes down before 6pm. It doesn't leave much time in the day for work or getting things done.
- The ewes are fat as butter on the grass-seed circles and the lambs are doing well also. I am working to get my lambs moved south to a couple circles close to the Columbia River, still on the WA side. We have to get the yards setup for trucking. The truck has been in the shop this past week for minor repairs and upgrades.
- My pickup trucks have not done so well. We blow the transmission on two trucks last week. One is my old Chevy Diesel and the other is the $500 Chevy truck I bought to replace it.
- The four-wheeler went to the shop for repairs. So, right now we have two working Ford pickups, both with standard transmissions. I am not sure what I will do about the two Chevy at this point. Transmissions don't grow on trees. I hate machines and they seem to hate me. I ordered a 5th wheel to gooseneck conversion kit online today so I can move the herders' wagon without the Chevy.
- On the up-side it seems hay prices are going down with demand. I have heard of several cattleman selling off their cows because winter hay was not affordable.
- I went to the doctor this week for the first time since I was 17yo. It seems all the lifting I have done this past few years is catching up with me. I should be able to get a re-fit and be back out working hard again within a few weeks. This issue couldn't come at a worse time. I still have my ewes to shear and Katie is going to have our baby in a matter of weeks now.
- While I was at it, I went to the dentist as well. I feel like on an evolutionary scale, our bodies are way behind our life expectancy. Not sure who you are voting for but I will vote for whomever helps me see a dentist and a doctor on a regular basis. You cannot live without your body and teeth to help you put food into it.
- Sheep News: It seems all the ewes are bread. We did end up losing a couple of my ewes to blue-tongue. I imagine we will vaccinate for it next year. However, with an 80% effective rate for the vaccine, not sure it is worth it. EMAIL ME if you have an effective treatment for Blue-Tongue. We cut the ends of the sheep's ears off to release the pressure and that helps but only if you catch it early.
- Our "pet" ewe here at the ranch has decided to come into the barn now for hay and water. It is on my list to get her onto the truck and in with the rams this week. She is fat and happy so I am not sure I can lift her. I never thought I would say that about a sheep. She has had the good life here this summer. No dogs or people to bother her, just graze the weeds and smile as the trucks drive by. For a sheep, she doesn't herd worth a dam.
- We sheared 1913 lambs in five days this past week. We had Jorge and Jose (herders) Steve, Stuee and John (shearers) and myself (wool handing and press operator). It was a lot of hard work each day but we got it done. The first few days of getting the lambs into the corrals was a nightmare. Gale, my number one dog, was home at the ranch in heat. We had Mick (my old number one dog) Greg (young but excellent Border Collie) Jake (Gale's son, about 10 months old) Chocko (old kelpie) and Dose (Border Collie puppy I bought this summer). The lambs had no idea where to go and there was a lot of them. Jorge put one lamb in the corrals with a string on it's leg. That got the rest of the lambs to atleast start into the corrals.
- I bought a 1985 Ford Diesel pickup for Jorge. It is a standard and he loves it. I look forward to him getting his license. That will be a big help for the ranch.
- My old Chevy Diesel that Jose was driving lost reverse on the automatic transmission so I bought a $500 Chevy pickup from a guy in town. Jose called me today to tell me it wouldn't start. Just my luck. I hate machines.
- Jorge and Jose had to move my lambs about two miles to the circle the ewes were on and at the same time move the ewes down to the circle the lambs were on. I, thankfully, was at home today so didn't get the chance help.
- I am actually going to see a doctor for the first time in 17 years next week. After this week of shearing I think I may have pulled something and need a checkup. Thank god Katie has insurance for us. I am also going to see the dentist. I may as well get the whole body worked on while I am in the mood for it.
- "Winter Graze" is the name of the game right now. We have our feeder lambs on about 800 acres of seed-grass. How the fields are in Odessa, WA were it does snow. I am searching for more grass down by the Columbia River Gorge were it may snow but doesn't stay.
- The lambs we retained are gaining weight like mad. I will keep them back as long as we have feed for them or until lambing, whichever comes first.
- We are going to start shearing our feeder-lambs this coming weekend. Please give me a call 541 215 9109 if you are interested in coming out to help.
- The LGD Nine is about to whelp another litter of pups. I know I said before that I was going to get her fixed but she and Trooper have excellent pups and I just haven't brought myself to do it yet. We will see how this litter of pups looks and maybe get her fixed before we got to the mountains in the spring.
- There is a lot going on right now. We have gotten our fall load of feeder lambs in. We have about 2000 on grass circles in Odessa, WA. Jorge and I unloaded the last of them on Saturday night. The trucker had to unload and go. He got there about 10pm and we worked on getting the lambs off the truck for a couple hours. Once we had them off we had to trail them in the dark to the other lambs. They couldn't see the fence and were not broke to electric fence at all. We got the fence turned all the way up and fix the spots that got pushed down by the lambs. Once they were with the rest of the group they did better. We slept for a couple hours and went back to work at dawn. It was a long day. I managed to break the shifter on the 4wheeler and lose Jorge's cellphone all in one night. Thankfully, Jorge fixed the 4wheeler and found his cellphone the next morning.
- I hauled the lambs back from the USBCHA District 1 Regional today. Thank you to those of you who stayed after the trial to help us load this morning. We had a couple corral issues but managed to get the lambs on the truck safely.
- Katie is doing very well. She is 8 months along now. We are getting excited for the baby to get here.
- I have added several photos to the photos page. CLICK HERE to view them.
- 10 types of luck and non of them good. Cameron and I hauled, or tried to haul 1000 feeder lambs onto the grass-circles yesterday. Cameron's truck had a major breakdown. Lucky for us Kail, from Krebbs Sheep Co. was around and came to hook onto Cameron's trailers (full of lambs). I was overloaded, I was told the lambs would be 95lbs and they turned out to be 107lbs. That may not sound like much difference but when you load 466 of them on a truck, a few lbs makes all the difference. I made it to the circle and got unloaded.
- I was waiting for Kail to get there and help him unload, I was looking over my truck, I found that the front rim on the passenger side had a huge crack in it. I got a different tire and rim from the irrigation specialist on the farm (thanks Tom) and changed it out. I cannot believe it didn't just come off the truck while I was driving. That would have be a huge mess. I just had this truck inspected by a mechanic and a federal sticker put on it. I cannot believe they missed this crack.
- On the upside, we got all of my sheep off the mountain. The ewes are happy down on the grass-circle with the rams. The herder said the rams are working hard, so perhaps our percentage of Suffolk lambs will be higher this year.
- My lambs from the mountains are having a problem with blue-tongue. It started with one case and is now up to 10. There isn't much you can do but try to manage the spread. The herder is treating all the lambs with insecticide to keep the midge's off them. It was over 90 degrees for that past week, and the midge's bread like crazy in that heat and water. The weather is getting cooler and that will stop the midges from breeding. The vaccine for Blue Tongue doesn't cover the type we have here. I have never had a problem with Blue Tongue before. Next year, I will leave the lambs on the mountains until October. Info. on the Midges (While the Ceratopogonidae (biting midges) are serious biting pests, and can spread the livestock disease Blue Tongue.)
- Trucking sheep, trucking sheep. Lots of driving truck and loading sheep and unloading sheep. I smell like a sheep's bum.
- I put my Suffolk rams in with the ewes on 9-12-08.
- We trucked over 700 ewes today with the help of my friend Cameron. Before that I trucked 240 Suffolk lambs to the west-side on Monday. Then I trucked Pachy's sheep with Cameron to the circles. I also trucked my retained lambs to the circles and now 2/3 of my ewes. I have trucked sheep everyday for the past week. Dave, my brother-in-law, bought a truck for me to drive. It is a sweet 1988 Freightliner COE with air-ride cab. But, the Jake brake went out today. So, I have tomorrow off to get the truck fixed.
- The new herder, Jose is here. He is Jorge's brother and seems to be catching on fast. I dropped him off with the lambs the day after I picked him up from the airport. He had instructions to build fence on 1/4 of the circle for the ewes, to be dropped off today, and when Cameron and I got there with the sheep the fence was done. Good job.
- We had a great turnout of people that helped us load lambs to take the circles. I want to thank you all for your help. Please let me know if you are interested in coming back out to help again. The more people you have, the better, I say.
- Special thanks to my wife Katie and her team of Carl and Zack. The working crew. Nothing can stop them in the yards.
- We got the corrals setup today. Jorge has been working on them when he can get away from the sheep. I hired Lee on for a couple days to help get everything setup and ready. The corrals are now setup, just need a few more t-posts to re-enforce it.
- I put in my order for VIBRIO vaccine for our area. I will vaccinate the ewes while we have all the people here to help this coming weekend. Click HERE to read more about Vibrio. It is best to get a vaccine designed for the bug you have in your area. The Kain Vet center in ID does a great job with the vaccine for the local sheep-ranchers here. The vaccine is very expensive @ $.80 per dose but if you get caught with a attack of Vibrio you can lose most of your lambs and that would shut down my operation forever. Sheep are all about prevention and keeping the feed up to them.
- I also managed to pull the herders-van up to the grass-circles in Moses Lake. These circles are very far away 121 miles one way. It is going to take a lot of planning to keep myself from going bankrupt from buying diesel. Lee is going to come work with me again tomorrow. We will fence a 1/4 of the circle. I went shopping for the new herder's food today and will drop it in the herders-van. After tomorrow, the next time I go up there I should have a semi-load of sheep and the new herder with me.
- List of food for the herder
- Herder's Stores List:
- Rice (the biggest bag you can find)
- Sugar (5lbs)
- Chili Beans
- Mixed Vegetables
- Roman Noodles
- Cooking Oil
- Coco (for hot chocolate)
- Chicken (1 whole, about 5lbs)
- Eggs (12 per week)
- Other Stuff:
- Sheep-Salt (5-7 bags)
- Dog food (dry high-protein) 50-100lbs per week
- Dog food (wet, canned) 36 cans (3 dogs)
- Exchange Laundry
- Jorge moved the ewes and lambs to the top of the allotment yesterday. I moved his camp to one of the first spots we grazed last year. He is happy to have so much feed for the sheep and the fact that the ground is flat. This is much easier on him and the Border Collies. I took Bobby back up to the allotment, he is feeling much better now after some RnR and antibiotics at the ranch.
- Lisa Kittel is here for a couple days to give us a hand and learn a little bit about sheep and running range sheep. She and I loaded and then unloaded a trailer full of wooden panels for the corrals. We both got a workout in the rain and cold.
- I did get Greg back. I explained to them that Greg was in fact worth a lot. "He is a trained, Registered Border Collie with excellent papers and will make excellent pups and he is just a great working dog." They took him to the vet for shots and I paid the vet bill. I took him back to the ranch and he is getting some much deserved RnR.
- The Suffolk lambs look great and are heavy. I am excited to see what they weigh on shipping day. We spent most of the day on the allotment working on the corrals and looking over the sheep. It has been a couple months since I could look over the entire band at once. We escaped the rain in Jorge's camper and had coffee with him while he showed me some card-tricks.
- Wanted: Two register Border Collie Puppies/young dogs. Should be from strong lines. CLICK HERE to email me or call 541 215 9109
- Bad couple of days. I got two flats on my ford work-truck yesterday while trying to move Jorge's camp back up to the top of the allotment. I had Katie with me. When the first tire went we were a few yards from where the camper was before but on the road to the point where we needed to find a flat spot to hold the truck and camper without rolling off the jack. So, I drove on the flat for a couple hundred yards to a spot where I could get it off. I was feeling OK, I had a spare and I was happy that I kept the spare on the flatbed of the truck. I had been keeping the spare out of the way back at the house. That was a good plan unless you need the spare. So, I changed the tire, my glowing, pregnant wife standing aside watching me and did I mention it is in the 90's on the mountain, that means over a hundred in the valley. We got back in the truck. I only took the Ford on this adventure because it is the only work-truck we have that had working air-conditioning in it. So, long story short, the back driver-side tire went but I didn't know it because I had the windows up and the air-conditioning going full out and my rearview mirror on my side was folded in because of the trees on the trail. I stopped the truck. I could feel the tires on the truck were slipping on the rocks and I wanted to see if it was true. So, now we have two flats and just guess how many spares I have on that truck... Just one. I figure, no problem, I have four different friends in the area, one will answer the phone and come get us.
- I had Jorge (Jorge had come upon us while I was looking over the second flat tire and praying he would magically appear, and he did, on the four-wheeler) take me on the four-wheeler to a place on the allotment where the cell phone would work. I started calling. The first round of calls netted no answers but for Sky. Turns out Sky is in Portland so cannot help and his son Kail (next on my list to call) is also away at a meeting. Now I am waiting to hear back from either Charlie or Cameron. Charlie calls me back in a couple minutes, he is over on the Westside (by the coast). I say OK, now what. Cameron hasn't called me back yet. I have Jorge take me back to the camper and flat truck. Katie is starting to look like she really wants to go home at this point. Jorge says in broken English and some Spanish that he knows I can understand "take the motto." I say, "yes, of course we can take the four-wheeler 40 miles home to the ranch." Katie says, "Are you crazy" Actually, she said something more interesting but not fit for a future mother.
- Katie said she wanted me to call a taxi. "A Taxi?" I said, you think a taxi is going to come down a trail like this to get us? She was not happy about the four-wheeler Idea after a little while she realized it was either take the freewheeler home or stay in the camper in this heat and maybe not sleep in her own bed. She agreed the four-wheeler was the best hope of escape from a run of bad luck. I said, if we get pulled over I will explain everything and the cop can take you home in his car. We drove the back roads most of the way. At one point we had to drive through town but it was Sat. and no cops around to stop us. 1.5 hours and 40 miles later we were home.
- On a side note, Greg (one of the Border Collie, a great one) went to the neighbors house on the allotment. They started feeding him and so he has setup shop there. They called me a couple days ago and Jorge went and got him. Yesterday, Katie and I stopped at the house on the four-wheeler to find Greg there. We asked them to look after him for the night and we would get him the next day. Today was the next day and Greg and the people are gone. I have left several voicemails for them. I just hope they have not left with Greg. Jorge when up there today with me to look for him and no Greg. Aside from Gale, Greg was one of the best Border Collies I have ever seen. Natural and really liked people. I hope I am wrong and they bring him back or call me.
- I took Jake up to the allotment yesterday to start working for Jorge. Bobby is at home for more R-N-R and medicine for an infection he has. Jorge said Jake busted into the sheep and caused lots of problems last night but was working better today with his mother, Gale.
- I contracted my Suffolk-Rambouillet lambs on the 15th. Superior Farms http://www.superiorfarms.com/ ended up being the highest bidder. We will most likely not ship on the 1st but perhaps within two weeks of the 1st depending on the grass-circles.
- We do have a couple coming out to experience sheep-ranching first hand, next week. They will help me prepare for shipping lambs as well as spend time with the herder on the allotment.
- I fenced about 10 acres for the rams today. They have been on full-feed and it is coasting me $200 per month at last years hay prices. The Suffolks are put on their best behavior. I used Electronet with a pos/neg setup. That should help.
- The future sheep-MAN in Katie's womb will be named Ethan Paul Turner Harlow. A name befitting a sheepman I would say. Katie is doing great.
- I found an old used Ford F250 for sale down the road from us. I hope to hear it run in a day or two. This would be a great herder-truck. Nice/cheap and will haul water to the sheep on the circles. It is an automatic, very important for a new herder who has never driven a truck before. I just whish I had a team of horses with a wagon he could use instead.
- I tended camp today and Bobby (Border Collie) was in poor shape. He has not been eating much. I took him back to the ranch for some R&R and puppy chow. I gave him some antibiotic. He has an infection in his "man parts". He is walking funny but I hope in a few days he will be better. He has a lot of hair and that is not a good thing for Border Collies in our area. They pickup foxtales and that can kill them if you don't get onto it in time. Mick is all about controlling all new dogs at the ranch and Bobby is handling him with reserve.
- Gale is still in the mountains with Jorge and she is thin as are all the dogs up there. The lambs look fantastic. Thin dogs = fat lambs. This is because if your moving the sheep enough to keep the lambs fat then your dogs will be thin, as will you (Herder).
- Jorge thinks we can ship the Suffolk lambs and wean the Rambouillet lambs from their mothers and stay on the mountain. I have been told this is not a good idea. They tell me you need to get your lambs behind a fence at weaning. Jorge thinks he can do it with Gale. I have not made up my mind yet as to what we will do. Since I will be around I may try it. I will move up to the mountains to help out with Mick if needed. The lambs will go onto the best feed, the top of the allotment. Lots of trees to deal with but the bears and cats are not as bad there. I know this area very well, since Charlie and I herder the sheep on it last year. Ginger (herder's horse) has been sitting in the pasture getting fat as butter this summer. I will need to pull her up on the mountain and she will get thin like the rest of us if we are herding weaned lambs.
- Charlie is working to maybe buy those ewes and run them with me this year. I hope he is able to make something work. I know Charlie will be a great sheepman. There are not very many of us out there so when you find somebody that is actually interested in running sheep, I tend to encourage that.
- The trapper got a huge, aggressive black bear. I can tell he thought this bear was a big troublemaker, he was very happy to get him away from my sheep.
- I have had several people ask about those sheep for sale. Keep the questions coming, I don't think there has been a price set yet.
- I am stepping out of the truck until I get my own truck or until Dave buy's a truck for me to drive. I was gone a bit too much for the amount of money I was making, not much. I made a little extra money to cover the gap before I sell some lambs. I still do have another herder coming to look after the feeder-lambs. So, it is back to all the stuff that wasn't getting done while I was out.
- I would like to get a better truck just so I can haul my own lambs out to the feedlot and haul some of the feeder lambs in on the grassing contract.
- I have a friend that has a group of 337 Rambouillet ewes for sale. 200 of them are 1 and 2 year olds the rest would need to be sorted through for age. He needs to find a buyer by Sept. 1st. Call me if you are interested and I will give you his details. 541 215 9109
- My brother-in-law, Dave V. may be buying a used semi-truck with the understanding that I will drive for him part-time. I am encouraging him to get his CDL as well so he can come on the be cattle-drives in the spring and fall.
- I tended camp today and Jorge is doing OK. The sheep have plenty of feed but are spread out a ways. It has been very hot and that is bad for gains on lambs. The Suffolk lambs look good.
- The trapper got another bear and a bobcat on the allotment this past week. We haven't had anymore predation on our lambs since he got that bear so I am hoping it was the one that was causing the problems up there.
- I have put in to get another herder here in time for shipping lambs. We will sale half the lambs and take the other half to the grass-circles for a few more months. I hope this allows me to make enough money to pay for the extra herder and also keep back more replacements this year. If the new herder comes through OK then I will most likely take on 2000 lambs on a grazing contract this fall.
- Katie is doing very well with the pregnancy. She is showing and that makes it real for me. I think we decided on the name of Ethan.
- Getting ready to contract lambs. I usually have three different buyers make a closed bid on the lambs. The highest bid gets them.
- I tended camp today, Jorge is doing well. It turns out that Bobby is a strong dog and made it through the snake bite. He was working within a day, with a very swelled up face. These dogs are great ones.
- Back out on the road for the past five days. I went to Seattle, Portland, Mountain Home, then back to Milton Freewater then back to Seattle today and home to Milton Freewater.
- I then headed over to check the rams, they are out of feed in the lambing camp and needed to be put on hay. I corralled them in the yards, without a dog, that sucks. I then gave them half a big-bale of hay and made sure all the gates were closed. I also found two Suffolk rams in trouble, it is always the damn Suffolk rams that are in trouble. The Rambouillet rams are never in trouble. The Suffolk rams are very smart and pushy and tall. They figure out how to get their heads caught in a fence, jump a fence and into a river and do just about anything they can to make my life hard by trying to keep them alive. These two rams figured out how to get into the second lambing barn and into the jugs, still setup from last lambing season. They must have been eating the leftover alfalfa hay still in the jugs and having a great time. Somehow they managed to get the gate closed behind them. One ram was dead when I found them and the other was on his last leg, in need of water. It has been in the 90s here so it doesn't take long to die of thirst. I counted them at my last check five days ago and all where there so that ram died in five days or less of no water. I have a love/hate relationship with Suffolk's that I am sure most of the people who read this blog can understand.
- I got a copy (Fall 2007) of "Range" magazine from my local library before I left for Seattle yesterday. It had an article about Frank Shirts in it. Frank is one of the biggest sheep ranchers in America. He has almost 14 bands of sheep. It was great reading about how he got started and how his operation is run today. Being a up-start, I read anything I can find on how others got their operations started. Frank started out with his two brothers and split off on his own after a few years. I have often wondered if it would be better to go into business with my brother-in-law to get things started. It sure would be easier then doing all this on my own.
- This is Katie's list of names for our son: Ryan, Jared (I like this one), Paul (my uncle is named Paul), Mathew, Alex, Jordan. Perhaps we should have an online pole of sheep people who read this blog.
- We had a big problem on the mountains yesterday. As I was getting ready to leave, Jorge called and said Bobby (Border Collie I bought last year as a pup. He was full brother to Greg, who I bought at the same time) had been bitten by a snake and wouldn't make it. I had just brought Bobby back up to Jorge about two weeks ago. I had him at the house, getting some RnR for a month or so. He had only been back on the job for two weeks before this happened. I tell you, just when you think you have too many dogs, you understand how important it is to keep as many as you can feed. I may send Dos up there in the next couple weeks to begin his working career. Katie asked why I didn't send Jake. The truth is that I want Jake for myself, as my own dog and perhaps as a trial dog and to replace Mick, who is getting older by the season. It will not be long before I an looking for a retirement home for Mick and Jake will have to fill his spot. I think Gale will now be Jorge's dog and mine when she is home whelping pups.
- Katie had an ultrasound yesterday. We were convinced she was having a girl, well the picture doesn't lie, it is a boy. We are very excited and happy to have a son coming. Katie and I are now back in negotiations about a name. I like Tristan, Troy, Elijah, Turner and Augusta.
- I have been home for 5 days now, feels strange. I am heading out on the road again tonight for a few days. I am working hard to get lots of grass-circles setup for this winter. I am hoping to bring in 3000-4000 feeder lambs this fall. That would really help us this year. I am also working on trying to buy a home base ranch. There just are not many ranches out there that will pay for themselves. Most are money-pits.
- I added some new photos of Jorge and the sheep on the mountains. Please click HERE to check them out.
- The sheep are doing well. Jorge trailed the sheep down into bottom of the allotment and across the river today to the other side of the range where the feed was better and the sheep would get fatter. We lost five lambs while crossing the river. I asked him why he didn't cross down further and he said it was too steep to get the lambs down. I was a bit upset about it but I trust Jorge did the best he could and made the best choice. He was also upset about losing the lambs, he could see I was not happy. We have lost 8 lambs up to this point on the mountains and now we have lost 13. Most of the lambs we have lost were to a huge bear and two cats. The trapper is working hard to get things under control for us. Jorge never leaves the sheep, maybe for one hour a day to get more food for himself and the dogs.
- There and home again. I have been to Canada twice this week. I really like the Calgary area, I think you could run lots and lots of sheep in that area if you could pay for it. The cattle I could see were very far and happy indeed.
- I will head up to Jorge tomorrow to check on my sheep. Charlie was there a couple days ago and said Jorge would like to move the sheep to the other side of the allotment and graze back to the top again. I don't like trailing the sheep very far at once while in the mountains. The trees make it difficult at best. I will talk to Jorge and figure out what we will do.
- I moved Jorge's campo (camper) today to the top of the allotment. He is seeing that bear on a regular basis now. He says the LGDs have it on the run.
- The sheep are doing very well. Jorge is working very hard. I give him extra meat and special treats to keep him happy and maybe put on a little more weight. He is feeding the dogs many eggs to keep their protein intake high.
- Charlie Martin (intern from last summer) has agreed to tend camp for me during the week. I don't like the idea of tending camp only once a week. I need to know my sheep and herder are doing well. I don't like not knowing everything is going well when I am away. Charlie is a great friend and the best guy I could have on my side for looking after my sheep. He spent all last summer in the mountains with me and knows when something is not right.
- Life is pressing. Keep it going. Keep all the plates spinning.
- Happy 4th of July.
- I have been out in the truck driving like a mad man to make some money and keep my ranch going. I don't mind the driving, I just don't like the waiting around for loads and loading. I got to a drop-point (Produce) at 5am and by 10am I still was not unloaded. When I did get unloaded they screwed it up. The manager said there was a problem and I said "Well I have only been here for 5 hours. I am sure you didn't have enough time to get if off the truck." He asked if it was his fault and I looked around and said "Well it isn't mine." The truck I am driving is a 1988 Kenworth, I really loud beast with 435hp and 15speeds. That is all I can say about that.
- I tended camp today and the sheep are doing very well in the mountains. We have a couple bears and at least one cat we are dealing with. Jorge is tent camping so the sheep don't have to move very much to get feed and water. The lambs are looking great.
- Katie is starting to show. She is a little self-conscious about it. I think she looks great and I am very proud of how she is taking care of herself and our future sheep-rancher. It is easy to be the father, being the mother takes a lot more work. It is hard on her for me to be gone for days and days on end.
- The price for lamb is very strong right now. It is due to the weak dollar and so the imports are expensive. Not to mention the cost of getting the lamb to the US from AU and NZ. I know I have changed my driving ways due to the cost of diesel. I drive below the speed limit and that makes people crazy. I figure if they pay my diesel, I will speed for them.
- I hope to contract my lambs in the next 2 or 3 weeks. I am hoping for well over a $1 per lb. We deserve more then a $1 per lb. After all the work, blood and tears we put into these lambs it should be $2 per lb. And even that would not cover the hard work by all.
- Anyone out there wondering what a lamb is worth, it is worth the world to us.
- I have been a longtime member of the email list sheep-l. As of late there has been way too much "consideration" for predators on the list. After all this is a list for shepherds not for PETA. The following is a copy of my last post. I am not big on posting to these lists but something is getting missed by some of the members of the list.
I have zero tolerance for predation. You couldn't pay me enough for my lamb to allow them to be prey. Can you see it from the sheep's prospective? Sheep are held together in a group or are behind fence, they are domesticated, they made a deal with man 4000 years ago, my sheep have no ability to protect themselves. Do you consider it equal when somebody has a gun and you are held in behind uncrossable fence or in a group not allowed to run off. Sheep are handcuffed and that is not their fault.
I wouldn't be much of a shepherd if I just accepted the death of my sheep. LGDs are great and ours are the best, of course they get more experience then most dogs, but an LGD is just a bump in the road to a meal for a large bear or smart cat or experience coyote or pack of wolves.
LGDs are a great thing, good LGDs are worth their weight in gold, but they are not going to put the trapper, aerial predator control guys or my sheperd out of business anytime soon. You need ALL these things working together to protect your sheep. If we didn't have a herder, good LGDs, a great trapper, and the federal plane flying, we wouldn't be in the sheep business. When a predator kills my sheep, I consider it my ONLY job to get it stopped.
If too many people decide to defend the killers we will not have federal trappers, the airplane and our ability to protect our sheep. Then there will be no American Sheep Industry. Who's side are you on? Decide.
Remember, it is the LIVEstock business not the DEADstock business.
- I tended camp today and the sheep look a hell of a lot better then they did two weeks ago when we moved them onto the mountains. The Suffolk lambs are fat as butter and the Rambouillet lambs are catching up with speed. Jorge is much happier now too. Gale is still up there with him all the Border Collies are doing better holding their weight. It snowed 2 feet last Tuesday and Jorge woke up it. The sheep were fine, they just moved lower on the mountain and ate browse rather then grass for a few days.
- I am looking for a pack-mule for Jorge. I don't have much experience with packing but I would like to get a mule going so Jorge doesn't have to use a backpack for everything.
- I got the Chevy back and it is great to have it. The plates are now out of date, it has been in the shop that long.
- Sue Wessels is bringing the rest of my sheep to the allotment tomorrow. I rented her my replacements that didn't have lambs on them for her sheepdog trial. I went up there on Friday to sell some wool and the sheep were in great shape. I stayed to watch several dogs run in the trial. I love watching dogs work range type sheep. You can really see the dogs you want on the ranch and the ones you wouldn't.
- It snowed on the allotment two days ago. This is the middle of June and it snowed on the allotment. I haven't been up there, I can see the snow from down in the valley. Jorge (herder) was going to move the sheep lower when I was there last, on June 9th 2008. The feed is very good lower. He had the sheep by his new camp location, I am calling it camp 2 (on the spur just below the top of the allotment behind the locked gate). Camp 1 is the top where we unloaded the sheep. God willing, he is on top of things there. It is very hard for me to put this amount of trust in any one person. I shepherd my sheep on this allotment last year and I lost 200 sheep for a few days without knowing it. It is easy to get lazy and not count your marker sheep every other day. Every time I see Jorge I remind him how important the count is and he indicates that he understands me. Having a herder is almost like a marriage, you have to put your trust in this person. That can be very hard for those of us who are controlling A type personalities. I want to know every step of the way what is going on.
- I hauled sheep for a friend of my, Dave D. from Ritzville, WA to outside of Spokane. What a trial that was. I had to drive about 50 miles, sleep at a truck stop then drive another 80 miles to where the sheep were. The road to the sheep was very bad and I caught my trailer on my truck twice, once on the way there and once on the way out. I broke a rib on my trailer on both sides. There goes any money I was going to make on this deal. It seems like anytime I take my truck out for a job something happens to cost me as much as the job pays. I guess it is true that semi trucks only cost money, they don't make any. You have to really like driving that thing, otherwise there is no point to starting it up. When I got to the truck stop, I tried to fill up with diesel, I put in $500 worth and was not full. The climb up to his allotment was very steep and I could only do it in third gear (out of nine gears). Cameron and Mike D. where hauling with me and Mike D. is a fantastic teacher for future truckers. He radioed ahead to Dave in the first truck and asked him to broadcast any climbs before I got to them. This helped me pick the correct gear to climb the hill in. Not a big deal on paved road, if you miss a shift on gravel you could be sitting their wondering what the hell happened and how you end up in this spot (pounding on the shearing wheel cursing yourself).
- I am going to get my Chevy pickup back again tomorrow. I like the ford, lots of power, but really miss my Chevy. The Chevy's ride is so nice and the tires are good. The tires on my ford are past needing replacements so having the Chevy back will mean I don't have to replace the tires on the Ford, at least not until this fall.
- Charlie Martin's friend has Buck (new Border Collie pup) for the summer. His brother Dos is at the house here. He really wants to chase cars and flog the chickens but Katie is teaching him about the chickens and I am working with him on the car issue. Nothing worse then a car chasing dog in my mind.
- I am looking for a new semi-truck. My truck is OK for local work but no good for the type of thing I need to do to keep my ranch afloat.
- I guess (not sure how long you should wait) it is safe to announce my wife, Katie is pregnant. She is due on December 5th (6 days before my birthday). I couldn't be happier. Katie thinks it will for sure be a girl and I am very happy for it being either. I just want her to be healthy/happy. It would help if she liked sheep too.
- We trucked the sheep the mountains yesterday. It feels very good to have your sheep on fresh, good feed. My sheep have been doing it hard this past month here at the ranch. The grass we have here is very poor feed. It is hard, dry and not very good for growing lambs. It was all I could do to get the sheep the mountains ASAP. Jorge (Herder) is very happy too. The sheep got off the truck and stuck their heads down to eat and didn't move more then 5 feet from that spot all day. I went up there today and those ewes and lambs look like they were going to eat themselves to death. Just huge bellies, big smiles on their faces. The down side is I lost two lambs on my truck, one each load. I have never lost a lamb on my trailer until now. I didn't close every panel so I could get more sheep on the truck and that was a mistake. Some days it seems the only way I can learn is the hard way. Special thanks to Kail Krebbs of Krebbs Sheep Co. for helping us truck the mountains.
- I brought Gale to Jorge on the mountains today. I went up there to check on the feed further down the mountain and to show Jorge where the sheep go next. He will have to sleep in a tent and use a back-pack a lot this summer. He seems to be OK with it. He knows that "The sheep are the most important thing." This means the lambs need to gain .75lbs a day for the next two months if we are to have a sheep co. for another year. Jorge has been a great herder with a great attitude. He told me today that he is going to buy his parents ranch from them. When he goes back to Peru, he will own a huge ranch. I admit to being jealous. I cannot afford a house, much less a ranch at this point.
- I brought Bobby, Herder's dog, home today. His coat is a little too long and so he got foxtails all over himself. They have infected his feet and armpits. He needs some time off.
- I posted new photos of Buck and Dos, the new Border Collie pups as well as a photo of Bree, Jakes sister from Gale's first litter.
- Katie and I got the yards (corrals) setup today. All up, it took about 10 hours of work to get them setup. I changed the setup a little. I made them so they are longer and narrower. It took a lot more panels but last time, it seems like the sheep got into a ball too much. Once they start turning and turning in a ball it is hard to make them go through a gate or chute. If anyone out there has any plans for how to setup sheep corrals, perhaps from Aussie or NZ, please send them to me. All my experience has been with American sheep guys and I have seen some good setups. I keep trying to make my setup better and easier on the sheep, people and dogs. Sky had a good setup at his place, we loaded four trucks in three hours, it went really fast. His chutes were very wide so like four sheep across could run up the chute and onto the truck. It seems when you have lambs on your ewes, the lambs want to stick to the ewes and if the chute is narrow the lamb gets in there and stops at every little thing, sorting gate, loading chute, etc. The ewes have been on trucks many times now and are good about leading the lambs. The problem happens when you have a lamb in the lead and no ewes in front of him. This is a big problem.
- You can see new photos of Nap, Gales son from her first litter. Click this link: http://www.bordercollie.org/boards/index.php?showtopic=19317
- I finally finished my accounting class for the FSA. I don't know how well I did on it yet. I just mailed in my last class worksheets and have not gotten my report card yet. I had two years to complete the class, of course I took the entire time. I did learn a lot about accounting. If you are going to be your own boss and try to get more money in loans, you should know how to do accounting. I have always done my own taxes because I want to know where my money goes and how I can save it for my family. I am a firm believer that you need to spend money, but the difference is where you spend it. When it comes to the sheep, you need to feed and take care of them, that money is your investment. But, you don't need a lot of things in your life, seeing where I spend my money tells me where I am wasting it. It is hard at times to save money in our world. Everything is about spending money and not saving it. I am trying hard to not spend money where I don't need to. I even took Tom (LGD) out of the ram pasture so I wouldn't have to go there every other day to feed him. I don't know if this is a good idea but with diesel being almost $5 per gallon, I don't drive if I don't have to. That is hard to do. The rams are close to a house and if I detect a Coyote problem I will put Tom back down with the rams. Back in the day, I would run to town to get a movie or something for dinner, now I don't do anything that I don't think will help the sheep.
- We now have our summer internship open. Contact me if you are interested in coming out to experience sheep, dogs and work.
- We are going to shear rams on June 8th 2008. Call me: 541 215 9109 if you can come help. We have about 32 rams to shear. Shearing rams requires a lot of helpers, it can be a rodeo.
- We got the sheep under control via more fence added to the pasture. The herder worked through the early night to get it done. The neighbor is still coming by the pasture with binoculars to insure the sheep are in the right place. I just love neighbors who are so concerned for my sheep. I wanted to call him and thank him for taking so much time to check on my sheep for me.
- Lucho, the bummer lamb has died. He will be missed.
- I got the phone call and meeting today that you hate as a sheep-rancher. I got a call that my sheep were on the neighbor's CRP. I went out there this morning to find them grazing where I thought they should be. The neighbor comes speeding up in his truck and looked like he was going to bite me, I introduced myself and shook his hand. That took the tension down a notch. He then started in on my sheep being on his CRP. Well, the map I have from the county says we are OK but he is convinced we are not. So, I apologize many times and went about moving the sheep up to the top of the hill. Then his brother or something, called me saying the sheep are out again. I went up there and yes we did have a couple sheep out but the world was not ending. Jorge (the herder) was working on getting more fence put up and the sheep got out of the corrals when he was away. Again, I apologized and told him I would sort it out. I was gone today moving my rams to some new pasture in order to avoid such phone calls about the sheep being out. The rams were running out of grass and needed to be moved. So, while I was gone trying to do the right thing, the wrong thing was happening at my ranch (rented). When all you have is rented or leased ground you run your ass off trying to keep everyone happy and no phone calls. Jorge had no idea the sheep were out and he was working hard to get the fence in the "right" place. We need to get to the mountains ASAP. Then I will have a new set of problems (predators) but I can shoot those problems.
- We hauled Sky's last band of sheep to the mountains today. I was on the road at 5am and got home about 5:30pm. Everything went well, I didn't have a full load of sheep just three decks. All the scales were closed, it is a holiday for non-sheep ranchers, this weekend.
- I went by my sheep allotment a couple days ago, still snow on top. I am looking for other options at this point. I have no idea how we are going to pull this off. The sheep are running amock here. Jorge is running himself and the dogs into the ground. They have plenty of grass up on the scab-ground but they don't like how dry it is and he is having to keep them herded close because they are next to the CRP.
- We are looking to truck out to the mountains on June 2th. Let me know if you would like to come help us load the trucks. This is a great experience for yard/corral work and to see how we setup our yards.
- I hauled sheep for Sky Krebs today. I got 400 ewes and lambs on my truck. I was over-weight on my drivers so I had to climb into the trailer, full of sheep, and move sheep back from the front of the trailer to the back of the trailer. This is difficult under the best of circumstance and when it is 85 degrees at 10am in the morning and I had left the back panel on the top deck open so, I was on the top deck (4 decks in a sheep trailer). It was hot but I got it done and then drove 4 hours to Sky's allotment. I got up this morning at 4am to get to New Cecil (Sky's new ranch) by 7am. I would have gone last night, but my trailer is giving me problem with the lights. I love and hate trucking all at the same time. Having my own semi-truck and sheep trailer allows me to move my sheep whenever and wherever I need to. It also allows me to haul sheep for my friends and therefore see how they setup their corrals and load sheep. Everyday is a learning experience. Good, bad or backache.
- The grass at the ranch here is going to crap in a hurry. I am trying to think of ways to get my sheep out of here and onto the mountain ASAP. After seeing how good Sky's lambs and ewes looked, I knew my were behind.
- Jake, Gale's pup from her first litter is growing like crazy. I worked him a little yesterday and he is a natural heading dog. He really wants to work and I have to hold him back a bit. I can see he is going to be the future of my ranch.
- Gale was in heat from 5-1-08 until 5-19-08.
- We have a litter of pups that Carl is the father of for sale. They will be 3/4 border collie and 1/4 cattledog. Call me if you are interested.
- We moved the sheep home yesterday. It took four loads, two loads per truck. Krebs got 570 on their truck and the second load had half a deck left over on the second load, so I figure I must have loaded about 540 on my truck. The sheep were very hard to load. I don't know why, my sheep are usually the easiest to load of all the flocks around here. They were being very hard. After we loaded my truck I sent Charlie to my house to get the doublewide loading race. Once we set that up, it went better but still hard. All the lambs came first and of course with all lambs we didn't have any lead-ewes walking up the ramp to the trailer. The lambs would run in and then stop and turn around at the ramp. It was a very hard day.
- The sheep are burning through the feed very quickly. We had the fence done before the sheep got here but the pasture is very small at 100 acres. We will be trailing the sheep starting in a couple days.
- Neil has finished his internship with us and we all thank him very much for his hard work. I hope he got as much experience and information as he needs and wants. Neil worked very hard here and he was here during one of the busiest times of the year. I think his dog Pete got more work in the time he was here then he could have imagined. He will need to tune Pete down a little if he is going to trial him. Pete is a sheep moving machine now. I think Neil and Pete came a long way in their relationship. It is one thing to have a sheepdog, it is another to wake up everyday knowing that your dog is going to save you butt. Your dog will need to work his feet off to help you do a real job with real consequences if you don't get it done correctly. Sheepherding is very black and white, the sheep are together and fat and happy or they are running off into the horizon to be killed or lost. Very simple to think about very hard to do well. I think we all have the idea of a sheepherder as a simple, peaceful person. Well, let me tell you and Neil can now say first-hand; that peacefulness you see in the sheep grazing on a hillside comes with a LOT of hard work and very good dogs. If you could see the herder and his dogs you would see strength and control. They have worked harder then you could possible imagine. Like a lot of difficult things, the very best people at a job make it look easy. This is also true of sheepdogs. Aside from the sheepherding, I hope Neil now has a good grasp on what it takes to get up everyday and try to make a sheep company work. He was there when I made many calls about finding graze and setting up trucks for hauling and calls about sheep getting out or not getting out but somebody thought it was my sheep. A horse getting away from us twice. Lambing out over 1000 ewes. trailing over 2000 sheep. Figuring out the budget and how we try to make money. Neil was here for all of this and he was very helpful wherever he could be. Thank you Neil. I hope you do well in your life.
- Lana just emailed me a link to this product Click here: Redpaw Dog Food - The Spirit of Racing - Redpaw, Inc. It seems to help dogs put weight on and keep weight on without changing their dog food. As I said before I changed Gale over to Puppy Chow 27/16 to try to get her weight up and so she can go back to work after she comes out of heat. I am going to check this new product out. If it is small enough to pack around in the mountains and you just need to add it to the dogs regular food, it could be just what I need for the herder's dogs and mine during the long hard springs and summers. I have been feeding Gale and Jorge (Herder) is also doing this with his dogs, 4 eggs and about a cup of cooking oil directly onto the top of their food. Gale loves eggs but Jorge said his dogs don't like them very much. The big problem with dogs is getting them to eat enough every-day and so getting enough digestible fat and protein into them each day.
- Neil, Mick and I moved the rams down off their pasture today. I counted the rams a couples days ago and thought I lost two, it turns out they are all there, but one is sick (old ram). I don't think he will make it. The rams were too big to fit down the race we built for vacinnating and wormed the ewes on Sat. but with a little help most of them made it down. We had about five that have horns too big to fit down any race, so we loaded out one load and came back for them. We loaded them directly out of the side of the corrals, by opening a panel.
- We also went up to the allotment this morning to check things out. Still a lot of snow and still no way to getting on it. Many more tears were shed. So, tomorrow Neil and I will fence off the wheat ground and make a race for the sheep to trail up to get onto the pasture we have fenced for them. The up side is that the sheep will be behind fence for a couple days so Jorge can come with me to take down all the fence on the stubble and Jorge's dogs will get a couples days rest. There are too many downsides to list.
- We are looking for our next summer intern. Neil is leaving this month. We have an opening for this summer. Please call me 541 215 9019 if you are interested.
- I have decided NOT to breed Gale at this point. She is a bit thin from working so hard (I have her on puppy food at this point to put the weight back on). Katie and I decided it would be better to buy a couple pups rather then breed her this spring. I will breed her to Greg this fall instead. Sorry for those of you who have contacted me to reserve a pup. I will keep you on the list and contact you directly when I know for sure we will be breeding her. Gale is THE BEST DOG I have ever worked or owned, I want her to live a long healthy life and it is because of this that I have to put off her next breeding for a few more moths. I am sure her next litter will live up to her reputation. If you are interested in sheepdog trialing, keep and eye on Don Helsley, he has one of Gale's pups and I am sure you will see her out on the trial field by next spring.
- I bought two new pups from a cattle ranch down in Long Creek, OR. They own both the mother and father. They are nice dogs with some good pedigrees to back them up. The father goes back to Wilson's Spot. In fact his top line is double bred Spot. The mother's bottom line has a lot of Jake Zanocco's breeding on it. He is well known in California for his cattle dogs. Time will tell if they can be sheepdogs or not. One of the pups has too much white on his head but I looked past that since these two males were the most outgoing and aggressive to come out and meet me. I named one "Dos" and the other "Buck". Buck has the white head and Dos is bigger and mostly black. I left them up with Jorge tonight. He was very happy to have a couple more pups.
- We took Saturday off. Yes, yes, we took a day off. Let it not be said that we work too much.
- Neil and I fenced about 100acres behind the house over that last couple days. We are getting ready for bring the sheep home for a couple weeks. I look at the mountains, with snow still on them, and cry. We should be heading in the opposite direction from home with the sheep. But, as a rancher we are slaves to the weather. I talked to Sky Krebs the other day when I picked up the blue-shoot. He said, there is no such thing as an average year. He also told me not to got the the mountains too early, the sheep scatter because the grass is not growing yet. Most people are talking about June 1st as the first day to turn sheep out. There is really nothing to be done at this point but hope.
- Neil will be missed, he has helped us get ready for vaccinating ewes and worming everyone. There are two sides to an internship here, one is out with the sheep for a month or more and the other is riding around with me trying to get things setup. Both parts are very important. Herding sheep is only a part of running a ranch. Finding grass and finding hay and deciding what to do next and building corrals and setting up the trucking and getting the Border Collies bred and getting the horse ready for the mountains, etc, etc is a huge part of internship. By the way, we are looking for our summer intern.
- I got two more horses. These are borrowed horses from a close friend of mine, Pearl Agard. She has been very supportive of my sheep enterprise, right from the start. She is a straight shooter and will tell you what you need to know. She is going to take some time to travel a bit and it worked out to take her two really good horses for a couple months while she is away. Katie and I had lunch with her and she mentioned that she was leaving her horses behind and I asked if I could take them. They are very well trained horses and one actually already backs. If you have experience packing on horse and know of a good book for me to read, please email me, email@example.com. I would love to get more information on it. A big chunk of our allotment is accessible by horse only. I have found good info. just by talking to experienced people but a book would be even more helpful.
- Gale is back in heat and I am going to bread her to a dog I own named Greg (Registered ABCA Border Collie). He has really impressed me working on the stubble for the herder. He has tons of natural talent and is very biddable. He has never turned off a sheep and can gather the entire flock. What a great dog. He is also smaller then Gale and has kept working for the herder day in and day out. This is very important for me. We need very sound dogs with lots of heart and great feet. The herder, Jorge, is very happy that we are going to get pups off him and Gale. The herder has worked Gale a lot in the last month and he just loves both Gale and Greg. Yesterday he told me if I took Greg away to breed Gale, the sheep would be lost to the wind. I take it that he needs him, so I have to figure out how to breed Gale at night during Greg's off hours. He is young so working all day and breeding all night may be OK for him.
- Neil and I went up to the allotment yesterday. It had even more snow then a couple weeks ago when Katie and I went up there. Things are not looking good at this point for getting onto the allotment. I think we will be bringing the sheep back to the ranch to graze. This will require a lot of fencing. We will be grazing very close to CRP and you cannot graze CRP without bring the wrath of the federal Government down on you, or worse the people who own the land and are allowing you to graze there. Neil is heading down to California after we truck the sheep to the ranch, so it will be just me and Jorge.
- I am still looking for a couple more herder's dogs. Please get in touch with me if you have anything for me.
- Gale is at home for a couple days. She has been up on the stubble working for Jorge to keep the sheep in line. She needs lots of rest before she goes back to work in a couple days. I am going to get her bred again very soon. We need more pups.
- We are going to vaccinate ewes and lambs again on 5-9-08. We are going to truck on 5-12-08. Please contact me if you can come out and give a hand.
- I rode both of the new project mares tonight. The quarter-horse, still nameless, did very well. She is kind of lazy. She doesn't like climbing hills very much and will go to great length to screw around when climbing. Little does she know, I am committed to making her a mountain horse. She will hate me more with each day. I also rode Katie's Lana (Arabian) and she was her full-self. This time I worked her down before I got on her. The saddlebags fell to one side of her and she freaked-out and started to buck and have a good freak-out. I kept a hold of her and got her calmed down a bit. Then I rode her for a while and let the other mare off to come along. She did OK but will need many more days in the saddle to get her to the point where I would take her to the mountains and feel safe on her.
- Neil and I shot guns tonight to keep in shape. I shot my .44 mag and did OK at about 20 yards. Neil has a .45 and he did equally as well. I am in the market for a Coyote gun. I shot at one with my .410 shotgun the other day and don't think I got him. Anyone out there have any ideas about good rifle for Coyotes, please email me. Remember, I am on a budget. Jorge has my old 30/30 and I don't expect he can hit anything with it either. I have been told that a .223 is a great gun for Coyotes. I don't think it will stop a bear, and Jorge will most likely run into at least one bear in the mountains. Hopefully, the LGDs will be all over the bear issue, like they were last year.
- It got up to 70degrees today and my house is covered in fruit flies. They are all over my wineglass. It seems, we may not have to move the sheep home this spring before we go to the mountains. If the sheep don't come home, then I will buy some cows to graze the back pasture. Neil and I worked today to get the fence back up in the back pasture and ready for horses if not sheep and cows. I was all ready to turn the horses out, then I took a horse out to check the rest of the fence and could see how bad a choice that would have been. There is about 100' of fence that is down, about two hills over. I never even knew about it. The grass is very nice here. I am going to call the Dave (Katie's brother-inlaw) to see if he has any cows he would like to graze.
- I have one female LGD to sale yet. She is well started but I will take puppy price for her, $400.
- It has been 14 years since I was bucked off a horse. Well that "winning" streak was ended tonight by Katie's horse Lana. I am really not liking horses right now. I got right back on her and gave her a work out. She bucked a bit more after that but I managed to stick to her and give her a really good ride. She is three years old now and it is time she starts working for the ranch. Katie isn't suppose to be riding right now so I will take her on as my new project, get her broke and ready for the mountains this summer.
- Another horse story, I bought a horse from a friend and she is a nice small quarter horse. I gave her to Jorge to train up for the mountains and he was doing a great job with her. We used hobbles on her to keep her close to his camp. Then she figure out how to run with them on. After just three days on the stubble she decided to take off and was found over 5 miles away, remember this is with hobbles on. I took her back to the ranch for a little training. Now, I have two horse to get trained before we head to the mountains.
- I finally got the 4-wheeler back from the shop today. Just in time too. The 3-wheeler decided to give up the fight. The sheep were running wild when I came up to the stubble to find Jorge trying to get the 3-wheeler started. I had Neil with me and took him back to the lambing camp to get his dog. Once Neil was back and helping Jorge re-gather the sheep, I left to go pick up the 4-wheeler. It is the same old bike, now with a $1500 rebuilt engine. I just hope it lasts. And I thought today was going to be a nice calm day.
- I am in the process of trying to find more grass to graze before we have to go to the mountains. You see, the snow is very late here and is not leaving on the allotment. This means I have no access to get my sheep on there. I have spent the last three days down at the county clerks office looking up parcels of land, trying to find out who owns them and contacting the owners to get permission to graze. This is big cow-country so I have to work on pasture that is NOT already rented to cowboys. This means taking the steepest and hardest pasture to graze. Neil has come down off the stubble and is spending time with me, learning the process of tracking land-owners down and talking to them. I run into lots of NO but it only takes a couple nice land-owners to turn my futures around. I have 1000 acres of scab-ground to graze at my house but the herding is going to be VERY difficult on Jorge. You see, we have equal amounts of CRP and scab-ground. You cannot graze the CRP but you can graze the scab-ground. The hard part is that there are no fences between the scab-ground and CRP. Of course the best grass is on the CRP.
- Neil has learned a lot about lambing sheep and herding sheep. Now, he is spending his time with me in the truck riding around looking at maps and in the courthouse finding information, and listening to me on the phone with land-owners. This is a great education for him if he wants to get into the sheep business. Networking is important in business. Networking and research.
- I hate horses. I have to be reminded of this every time I get a horse to work sheep. I was reminded of this today. I went down to the lambing camp to pick-up Neal, our current Intern, and go build new corrals for shipping out and vaccinating sheep. I grabbed a couple flakes of hay to feed the new horse, has no name yet but Jennifer P. suggest I call her Dos (two in Spanish) she is in first place at this point. So, I have hay in hand and push my way through the bummer lambs to the corral that should have held the horse. The horse was gone. I couldn't believe my eyes. This horse is only 14.1 hands tall. What the hell happened. I figured aliens abducted her. What makes it worse is that the lambing camp is fully fenced. The bridge over the creek is a pipe-bridge that cattle and sheep will not cross. I thought a horse wouldn't cross it as well but I was wrong. She went across it and then some. After spending my morning driving around looking for this horse. I finally call the sheriff and yes my horse turned up about five miles away. Apparently she was courting a miniature donkey (intact). She really wanted a boyfriend and went through hell and high-water to find one. I am looking forward to her having a donkey/quarter horse cross. That should really make my cattle-friends fall over with laughter. I changed the tire on the smaller stock trailer and retrieved my new horse. The lady that found her had several kids and they all wanted to keep her. It was all I could do not to just say OK and walk away. One more escape like that and I will not go looking for her.
- Neal is living down at the lambing camp now. He is taking care of the bummer lambs for me. We were suppose to get the new set of corrals up to day but instead we only got the old corrals taken down, leaving a night pen for Jorge. We didn't get one panel setup for the new corrals. Neal said: "You live a very exciting life." I just shook my head and spit.
- When I get up in the morning, I have a plan, then I write that plan down on paper, then I take that paper to the bathroom with me. Because that is what a plan is worth in this business.
- Gale was working for Jorge up on the stubble but I took her home today. Gale is the very best dog I have ever owned and I could see that she was the best dog that Jorge had ever worked, so he was working just her and not his other three dogs. She was bone thin and looked like she would fall over if she wasn't so tough. I put her in the truck and said, in half-ass Spanish, you need to work your young dogs to get them ready for the mountains. He wasn't very happy with me taking her but I need many more litters of pups from Gale, she is the future of my Sheep Co. She is the type of dog that wouldn't stop working until she fell over. Jorge is good with his dogs but I don't think he understood how bad she looked. I really want Jorge to get his own dogs going and not depend on mine. I will buy Jorge a couple more dogs and perhaps start them for him. That is the best I can do at this point. Mick will not work for him and Gale is to valuable to risk. If things start falling apart and he is losing sheep then I may have to send Gale up there again but I hope it doesn't come to that. I gave him about 20lbs of meat to start feeding his dogs, this should increase their energy. The Border Collies I bought for him are of high quality and good breeding, they just need him to train them a bit. Some Sheep Co. don't provide good dogs to the herders, they figure the herder will not be able to get the full potential out of them, but I think if you start with a good dog, it is easier to get the potential out of them. A dog with no potential, will never be worth the food you feed it.
- I purchased my first horse in over 15 years this week. I have borrowed horses and Katie owns two, I had a couple horses left that I bought when I was younger but I have not paid money for a horse since I was in high school. I don't have a name for this new horse. I am starting a naming contest for her. You can see her picture by CLICK HERE. Email me you ideas. She reminds me very much of one of the horses I borrowed this past summer to herd sheep in the mountains. Her name was Chouncy. I have no idea how to spell it but hopefully you get the idea. I am thinking of naming her Chouncy-2. Or number 2. She is a small, solid quarter horse from ranch-horse lines. Britney, you can see her photo from marking lambs, bought her and worked her for a while. She was not and is not broke. I worked her the past couple days and she is out of shape, hard-headed but calm. I put the hobbles on her and she didn't even fall down. She freaked out a bit but then went back to eating her hay. I took them off after a couple minutes and she was fine. I am going to ride her for a couple weeks before letting the herder on her. I have insurance and so, if I get bucked off, that is OK. I haven't been bucked off a horse since my freshman year in college. I am running out of luck.
- Please take a minute to visit the Photos Archive CLICK HERE. I have also added new photos of our marking lambs yesterday. CLICK HERE to see current photos.
- We are using the existing fences on the stubble and some electric fence by the new wheat. The herder is going to have to herd the sheep more tightly now. It has been very cold and not much rain here so the grass is having a hard time growing. We are about three weeks behind this spring. It seems we will not have a spring, it will most likely just turn to summer and the grass will burn off early. When you have grass that is grazed and it is cold with little water, it gets stressed. So, when the warm weather comes it goes to head as fast as it can. This means is stops growing. This is bad when you have a 2200 sheep to feed everyday. I have been feeding out hay but I am at the end of the stack.
- I am looking for two more Kelpies or Border Collies for my herder. I have two really good young dogs with him and an old Kelpie. The Kelpie is very talented but, OLD. I gave him Gale (my number one bitch) to use until I find a couple more dogs for him. He wants my pup, Jake but I wouldn't give him up. Mick will not work for anyone else but me. So, if you have a young dog that is driving you crazy and you need to find LOTS of work for it, call me: 541 215 9109.
- We moved back to the ranch today from the lambing camp. Katie and I will be happy to have all the comforts of home again. Like, hot showers, clothes washer and dryer. We have about six ewes with young lambs still at the camp. Along with 25 or so bummer lambs. Now the task of cleaning everything up and getting ready for next year begins.
- We will be castrating lambs next sat. Call me if you are interested in coming out.
- Neil and Jorge are doing well herding the sheep. I gave Gale to Neil to use. Gale is the only sheepdog I have ever had that I felt could be run by anyone without worry that she would get them in trouble. Neil's dog Pete is getting thin and he realizes that he needs at least two dogs to do the job he is doing. Aside from that, he can send Gale out 900 yards to gather all the sheep on the stubble without worry that she will miss any. Once Pete gets more experience he will be doing the same big outruns that Mick and Gale do on a regular basis. There simply is no better training then experience.
- Jorge got a count on the ewes on stubble yesterday. We have 928 ewes out on stubble. That means we have another 200 still in the lambing camp. We have about 40 ewes that have not lambed yet.
- We are going to mark lambs (castrate, ear-tag, etc) on April 5th. We are looking for volunteers to help. There will be plenty of dog work and people work.
- We trailed about 1000 ewes and about 900 young lambs over 3 miles up to the stubble. That was on the 1st. It was a hard day. I would say that trailing young lambs is the hardest job of the year.
- Don Helsley has posted some photos of Gale's puppies. Click HERE to see them.
- Neil (our intern) and Jorge have been out on the stubble herding the ewes and young lambs. The wind hit over 35mph and the camper was rocking.
- Our new intern is doing very well. He has a dog named Pete that doesn't have much experience with lambs and ewes with lambs. But, he is coming along very well.
- Lucy went home yesterday. She will be very missed here. She handles lambs and ewes with lambs very well.
- We moved the rams out onto graze today. It took Jorge and Neil (our intern) four days to get the fence fixed and the weeds burned. A few weeds can kill an electric fence.
- The puppies also left. We now have only Jake, the male I kept for myself. He is very relaxed and I think he likes riding around in the truck as the only puppy. I don't think Mick likes him. Big surprise there. Jake will some day replace Mick and I don't think Mick likes it.
- The feed truck got killed. They lost the cap off the fuel tank and hay got in. I expect to find a lot of hay in the fuel line when I get a chance to take it apart.
- On the upside, the tractor is now running again. I am using my flatbed Ford to feed out the sheep.
- We have Jen here for the lambing-school. She runs a community farm in California. She seems to be learning a lot as well as teaching us a thing or two. She was pre-vet in college.
- I am sick as a dog today. I have had a really bad run of luck, ending with the flu. The tractor broke down over a week and a half ago. Then the Chevy Pickup stopped running all together. The four-wheeler got killed on the circles and I cannot afford to fix it. So, I had a dead tractor, dead pickup, dead 4-wheeler and my semi-truck needs a front-end repair. I hate machines. I have never like machines, and this is why. The 4-wheeler is only 2 years old.
- The tractor got fixed today. I am sure this will be a $2000 bill. I towed my Chevy down to a local mechanic to get it going. I told the Honda shop to just sit on the 4-wheeler since I cannot afford the repair at this point.
- While the tractor was out of order, we learned to load 1100lb square bales onto a 8-ton truck without a front end loader. So, for about 2-3 hours a day, we worked on leavers to get the bales onto the feed truck.
- I got sick while burning a fence-line. I left some temp-fence up on Randy's place and it got hammered this winter. We ended up cutting it away and burning the weeds just to be able to put the fence back up. I need this paddock, about 70 acres to run my rams on. I couldn't even leave the trailer today. I think I have slept over 8 hours today.
- On the up-side, we hare getting through lambing. We have been catching lambs in the corrals that need some milk each morning and feeding them by hand. This has kept our death rate down but it is time consuming.
- We are over the hump at this point in lambing. We lambed over 100 ewes a day at the peak last week. We are down to 10-20 per day again.
- Our intern from last summer came to pick up his new puppy today. He was very excited to have her and I was happy to see her go to Charlie. I know she will work well for him and he will take great care of her.
- We had a lamb that was 26lbs. That was the biggest lamb ever. None of the herders had ever seen a lamb that big either. It was huge. When I get time I will upload a couple videos and some pictures.
- Lambing is happening very fast now. We have put about 350 ewes through the jugs. We have the LGDs pups on chains. The first lambing for LGDs can be a bit much. Lots of stuff going on.
- We are putting out over two ton of hay right now. That is expensive. We got 1 foot of snow the last couple weeks, then it melted and we got another 9". It has warmed up today. Then comes the rain. We have lambed at 160% right now in the jugs. I hope that turns into 140% weaned lambs. We keep the twins apart in groups of about 25.
- I am keeping things short because I don't have much time right now.
- I had the last female pup from Gale sold and the women couldn't get her. So, I have one female left to sale. Katie really wants to keep her.
- The website was down because I didn't pay the bill. You have to first get a bill before you pay it. This is what I pointed out to my ISP. Anyway, I paid them and the site is back up now.
- The Gale's puppies are loving the snow.
- We got a foot of snow or more today. Lucky for me my ewes are in the lambing camp and are now on full feed. The bad thing is that they are eating about 2 ton of hay per day. This is expensive. I have my rams out on graze, but that graze is no longer available to them. This means over the next couple days I need to get those rams into the lambing camp and on feed. Truck, chains and a trailer.
- We have had about four ewes lamb at this point. One ewe that had twins had one Suffolk lambs and one Rambouillet lamb. At least it looks Rambouillet.
- I am finding, this is my first year using Peru herders to lamb, is they are good about bring the ewes in but they don't mother lambs that well. I guess they don't have experience with this in Peru. Thankfully, we have a winter Intern coming and also a couple people are coming to the lambing school. Mothering lambs makes all the difference. You can save a lamb. You can save it with time and heat and milk.
- I had MY first lamb today. It was by number 5062. Notice she has a low number. This means she had an early lamb last year too.
- I now have Louis (transfer herder), Jorge (my first import from Peru) and Nilton (Jorge's half brother). I picked up Nilton from the PDX airport last night. He missed his connecting flight from LAX. I got to the airport at noon and didn't get him until after 5pm. Then a 4 hours drive home. He seems to be working OK today.
- As of 01-21-08, we have trucked the sheep into the lambing camp. Lambing has started. Two reasons we are in lambing camp this soon. One, we were out of feed on the circles we were on. Two, the new ewes I have, have started lambing. I was told they were not going to lamb until Feb. and well they started lambing on the circles. I ended up paying another trucker to come in a take a load of sheep for me. So, we had Krebbs Sheep Co., Gillespie Grazing Co., Harlow's Hills Sheep Co. and Mike come over with sheep trucks. Gillespie, Krebbs and myself trade hauling but I will have to pay Mike $6-700 for trucking one load of sheep for me. We lost about 6 lambs on the circles and that was too many to wait even one more day, for me to take a second load of sheep. Sometimes, you have to spend the money to save money.
- After two days I got Jorge and his camp into the lambing camp. My transfer herder, from California, Louis has been just great. He has been in the US for six years and knows how to lamb in jugs. He has looked after my sheep when they got off the trucks and trailed them to the camp on his own. With about 30 new lambs on the ground.
- We had one ewe actually lamb on the truck.
- Trey is going on the plane in the next couple days. I will miss him. Things are very busy right now. I figured I had two more weeks to get ready for lambing and here I am, it has started. I spend a lot of time in my truck running around getting stuff together. The herders want food, the dogs want food, the sheep want hay. The lambs want warmer weather.
- The Honda 4-wheeler has blown up. It is only two years old but had over 6000 miles on it. That will cost me $800. It is hard to blame the herder but I did explain to him how much this repair will cost me.
- And, my brown stock trailer has lost an axle. It seems this cold weather is breaking all my stuff. I think the equipment must know I just got my wool-check and so they are trying to break down so I have to spend it.
- I took Trey to the vet today for an Airline vet certificate. He has been sold to Sam on the east coast. I am very happy for Trey. It sounds like he is what Sam is looking for. There is nothing better then when you get the right dog to the right handler.
- I got another herder. He is a transfer from California. His name is Louis. He has been great. I gave him a list of things to do at the lambing camp and he has done everything and done a great job at it. The guy who transferred him would only let him go if I said I would transfer him back. That is a really good sign and I can see why he wants him back. He has a license and can think on his own. I look forward to paying this guy. That is how good he is.
- Jorge is still out on the circles with the ewes. I am going out there tomorrow to check on him and the sheep. Depending on how much feed is there, I may bring the ewes into lambing camp next week. Jorge has been running up my cell phone bill. He has over 1000 minutes. That is as much as I have. I told the translator to call him and let him know if he doesn't stop, he will start paying his own cell phone bill.
- I got home from Denver yesterday morning about 9am. We trucked some of those feeder lambs out to the feedlot. I am working on being able to keep my lambs next year and truck them to the feedlot myself from the mountain. It all depends on cash-flow. Cameron and I team drove for the first time. When you team-drive, the truck NEVER stops.
- Sophie, Nines daughter from her second litter, had her first litter of pups this past week.
- Lucy got a couple of her front teeth knocked out by one of Katie's horses. I took her to the vet and he said everything looked fine and the teeth came out clean. It really surprised me since Lucy has gone with all the dogs up to feed the horse twice a day since she has been here. We didn't see it happen so nobody is sure what took place. Anyway, she is fine and eating with no problem. Just another vet bill.
- We are still looking for a buyer for Trey. He is a really nice and thoughtful dog. He is going to make somebody a great small farm and trial dog. And, the price is very good for a dog at his level of training and ability.
- We lost two LGD pups out on the circle last week. A cougar came into steal a sheep and got into a full-on fight with all the LGDs. I assume the pups got too close to the cat in the fight and got killed. This happened over two nights. The first night the herder didn't see it, but the second night he was out there checking the sheep and came up on the cat in the field with the LGDs fighting it. The herder said the Guard dogs had the cat circled and were coming at it in a furry. The cat was trapped and just striking out at whatever dog got close. This must have been how the pups got it. Nine, pups mother, has several scares on her face and back now. Both she and trooper came out of the fight a bit bloody but alive. One of the pups that survived has a bad leg but will be OK in a few days. This happened in Washington state in a area that I have not grazed before. So, it took me a while to get in contact with the correct agents to get hounds out to track the cat down. After many, many phone calls I got an agent and some hounds out to the circle. They couldn't pickup a scent and so the cat got away. We have finished that circle and moved the sheep down the road about 2 miles. This will not stop the cat from coming back but I am hoping that the Guard dogs gave the cat a good enough fight that he will move onto easier pray. The wildlife agents acted as if my herder was no telling the truth about the cougar. Finally, I asked the herder to draw me a picture of what he saw, he drew a perfect picture of a cougar. Washington State recently banded hunting cougars with dogs. Therefore the cougar population has exploded in that state. It is illegal to shoot them unless they are threaten your livestock. Thank god we have such strong and fearless guard dogs. I have heard of cats that kill 30 sheep in a night. They just get excited and go crazy with killing.
- Happy New Year. We are going to use the Fry-Daddy tonight for dinner so I am very excited about starting the new year with fried food.
- I worked Trey a couple days ago to move the 2500 feeder lambs. He is going to make a really good trial type dog or a small-flock type dog for a Novice handler. I spoke to his current owner and she has put him up for sale. She is asking $2700 for him and I think that would be a steal for a somebody that wanted a dog that listens very well and will not blow-up on them. His personality is rock-solid and a very easy dog to have around. He goes out of his way to do the right thing.
- I have also been working Lucy a bit. She is picking up the slack from Gale being out with her pups. I warned Diane that Lucy may require a bit of tuning down before she starts trialing her again. Like her brother (Trey) she is staying very strong on the head and will not turn tale on a sheep that faces her. Anyway, Lucy is fine and going strong on the ranch. She is still not riding on the 4-wheeler but that is a small thing at this point.
- Gale's pups are all sold but for one female. I am not to excited about it since if she doesn't sell, that means I should just keep her. I had Hercillio (One of Cameron's herders) at the ranch today and he really wanted one of Gale's pups. He has gotten a couple dogs from another ranch and he really wants a pup to train on his own. I just wish I had more pups, I would have given him one. I spoke to Rusty Childs yesterday and we agreed that one good dog is worth 3 OK dogs. My herder has good dogs and I think it makes a difference.
- It has been a very big week. Gale had her litter of puppies. Three females and three males. Don Helsley is getting a female for the stud fee and I am keeping a male to replace Mick when he is too old to work. So, we have two females and two males left to sale. the price is $650 per pup. Please contact me if you are interested in one. The father is Don Helsley's Cap. If you are on the trial circuit out here on the West Coast you will know Don and his dog Cap very well. They are doing extremely well out here on the range sheep. The pups are classic markings. One female has some thri-color on her and so as they get bigger more pups may start to show some tri-color. We are very happy with Gale. She is doing an excellent job with her puppies. She comes out of the whelping box only a couple times a day to go up to the barn with Katie and get a little exercise. Then she is right back with her pups keeping them warm and happy.
- I just got back from Denver CO. I hauled a load of feeder-lambs down to the feedlot there. Mountain States Co-op is the company that feeds lambs out of that feedlot. The trip down was hard work, it snowed on the border of WY and UT. But I couldn't stop. I just put the semi in 5th gear and crawled along. My truck was a little overloaded at the first scale but I got through it with the dumb sheep farmer act and so I didn't get a ticket. It took a day to get there and three days to get home. Cameron and I followed each other back on the way home and we both got stuck in the same spot coming home. It snowed an inch per hour for a long time. We made it to the last truck stop before the Mountain pass and slept for the night. It got down to -5 that night. I ran my semi all night to keep warm but it was so cold that the engine couldn't heat up enough to run the heater. It was a long night. Lucky for me I didn't have any sheep on the trailer. This was my first long-distance trip in the semi and it did well. It needs more power. The newer trucks just leave me in the dust when it comes to pulling up a hill. That little truck of my can be modified to higher power and I am going to check into it after Christmas.
- We are heading to Katie's parents house for Christmas day. We are going to take Gale and her pups with us. Not sure if we should take them or leave them home where they are comfortible.
- I ended up using just Trey yesterday while moving those 2500 feeder lambs. He was a bit unsure of himself and who I was in the picture. The first time a dog is on that many sheep can be very confusing and a bit stressful. He seems a bit reluctant to walk onto the sheep but I will not worry about him too much at this point. I was asking him to do a big job with three other dogs and two other herders there pushing the sheep. He listens very well and seems to have had a very good start put on him. It will take a few more big jobs to start to get a feel for him and if his push increases. I really like his personality off sheep he has settled right into the farm. Of course Mick keeps trying to pick a fight but Trey is staying above the fray.
- The herder is finally starting to work the two young dogs I gave him. I had the translator out there and explained to him that this was the best time for him to put a start on those two dogs. He was depending on just one older Kelpie to do all the work.
- I picked up Jennifer Proctor's Trey from the Pasco Airport yesterday. He is a full brother to Diane's Lucy. He looks just like her but he is black and white instead of brown and white. He is in the back yard right now by himself with the other dogs on the outside of the fence. We have several dogs here and I don't want him to get overwhelmed his first couple days here. He is a macho man. He stands up to Mick and is acting very tough. We are trailing two bands (2500) feeder lambs about a mile down the road on Fri. I will use him and Lucy for the job. He is responding to his name so I think he will work for me.
- Gale is coming alone well with her pregnancy. Let me know if you are interested in a puppy from her.
- I was married to Katie Van Dine this past weekend. I am extremely happy.
- I hope to post some wedding photos soon.
- I want to thank the individuals that came out to help us with shearing. Thank you very much Traci Bruchok and your sheltie, Adele and David Ullman and your corgi, Lori Withnell and your Border Collies, Dave Vicklund and your Kelpie. You were all a great help and we couldn't have done it without you.
- We are now finished shearing my 970 ewes and 2500 feeder lambs. We also crutched Cameron's 1200 ewes and about 300 of mine. This took over 6 days with 6 shearers.
- I used Lucy for working the pens and moving the sheep from the field to the yards. I think she just about has working the large flock figured out. She has found her bite and uses it when needed. I think she really enjoys working the yards now. She still gets a little lost when she losses sight of me but she is getting better about taking her sides. I got on her a bit when we trailed the feeder lambs to and from their pasture. I don't like to get on her too much.
- Gale is getting big. I think she is pregnant. Email me if you are interested in one of her pups. I don't know how many she will have and several are already spoken for.
- I have three female pups left to sale from Nine's last litter.
- I lost Jorge the LGD just before shearing started. He got into a porcupine. It was the worst I have ever seen. Just about his entire body had quills in it. This was a great loss. Jorge was from Nine's very first litter. He was Katie's favorite dog. She took it hard. I am keeping all of the males from Nine's last litter.
- Our wedding is on Sat. and I am looking forward to it. My family will be here starting on Thursday. It has been over two years since I have seen any of them.
- I picked up the new herder on Fri. from the PDX airport. He was very happy to see me. I don't think he was sure I would be there. I put him down with Hercillio in Patterson, WA. Hercillo should be getting him trained up.
- I don't intend for this to be political. http://www.cbc.ca/canada/saskatchewan/story/2007/11/02/wolf-father.html Wolves are coming close to the Mountain range where I run my sheep. We already have many bears and cougars. With wolves coming quickly, I wonder how our sheep and lambs will make it.
- We are ramping up for shearing. The price of wool is very good right now. I just hope I can get my wool on a trucking heading south to Roswell for sale. The LDP rate is down, as it should be with the wool price going up. Click HERE to see the latest wool prices.
- Wanted: Very good leg crook. I had one that was make of metal, the type used on a pitch fork. It was on the end of a hickory stick. I lost it out of the back of my truck. I have never seen such a good crook as this. Let me know if you have one or know where to buy one.
- For Sale: I have four female Livestock Guardian dog puppies for sale. Email me if you are interested.
- We are looking for helpers for our shearing on November 10th. Shearing will last for about 5 days. We will shear 900 ewes and crutch another 1500 outside of Patterson, WA. We will then move over to Hermiston, OR and shear 2200 feeder lambs. This will take lots of dog work and people power. Let me know even if you can only make it for one day. I can provide you with a bed and food.
- I loaded out my replacement ewe-lambs on Thursdays. I used Lucy to gather and load out the ewe-lambs. There was 250 or so. She is going strong now.
- I got a call from a women in Georgia who has Lucy's brother. I think she is going to send him to me to get some of the same experience that Lucy has been able to get. I think it really helps most dogs to get real-world experience.
- I have hauled my first full load of sheep on my own Semi-Trailer. I have hauled sheep before with my semi and a rented trailer but this was the first full load I did with my own semi and trailer. It felt really good. I have a light semi/trailer combination so I could haul 48,000lbs of sheep on it. That added up to be about 311, 155lb ewes. It is all based on weight. I can haul a maximum total weight including the semi and trailer of 80,000lbs. My trailer is very long at 50'. Most sheep semi-trailers are 48' or less. This meant that I could leave the back most compartment on the second deck free of sheep. I put Nine and her puppies in that compartment along with their dog-house and some supplies I was bring to the herder. I also put Mick back there so he wouldn't have to ride in the truck and stink it up, with sheep shit.
- Lucy is doing very well, as are the rest of the sheepdogs. I am hoping Gale is bred. Time will tell if that is the case. I used Lucy to move 2200 feeder-lambs about a 1/4 mile down the road to a new grass-circle. She was over her head but her calm disposition made it easy for me to help her along a bit. She is not 100% on her flanks while driving sheep yet but she is getting better. I don't think the issue is her not knowing her flanks but rather all the pressure of having that many sheep to herd at once AND remembering her flanks. She got with the program about half way down the road and things went well. She also got shocked on the fence and this caused her a bit of worry and now she really do not like the fences. After a while she will learn to jump over the fence like the rest of the dogs, or risk getting shocked. I didn't use the four-wheeler and she liked that a bit better was well. Something about the four-wheeler she doesn't like. I brought the old 3wheeler home to the ranch for Katie to use with her horses so Lucy will have lots of time to get used to running next to it.
- I visited Melinda's trial this weekend and talked to many of my old friends. It reminds me how much I miss trialing with them.
- Francis Chai stayed at the ranch for the trial, as did Trudy Viklund and her friend Jen (don't remember last name). I have never met Francis before and it was a shame I didn't know him while I was trialing. He and I talked for a long time about dogs and sheep and he seems to understand the difference between what I do with dogs on the ranch as appose to trialing. He raised some interest in coming and doing a short internship with us.
- I met up with my good friends Patrick Shannahan, Sue Wessels, Karen Childs, Susan Linstead and Lyn Johnston. They are all doing extremely well in trialing and in their personal lives. It gave me a chance to feel apart of the gang again. Good friends are hard to find and I miss them all deeply. It is very easy to get caught up in my work and forget to keep in touch with everyone.
- I also talked with my good friends from our lambing camp this winter, Lana and Marti. They are moving very quickly into fulltime sheep-farming. They seemed excited about running sheep so I guess their experience at the lambing camp didn't turn them off (all the hard work and long hours while having to smell and look at me, the dirty sheep-farmer).
- Sue Wessels had Brook and Quill at the trial. These are the two dogs I ran on the Mountains last summer. It felt great to see them again as well. Just like old friends. I had flashbacks to different times on the Mountain when both of those dogs pulled my ass out of the fire and funny things that happened. Quill's eye is 100% healed at this point. I huge weight off my shoulders. To have my own dogs hurt is one thing but to have your friends dogs hurt while you are running them is another.
- Lyn Johnston bought an RV trailer to use at trials now. It is just great. He also has a pup that looks like a future National Champion.
- Susan Linstead is going to help me vasectomies about 15 ram-lambs next spring. She works at the Idaho sheep station and has some great resources.
- Gosh it was great to see everyone. I really miss you all.
- We are going to be shearing starting on Nov. 10th 2007. We will be shearing for about 7 days straight. Let me know if you are interested in coming out to help. Eric: 541 215 9109 or firstname.lastname@example.org
- I have added Charlie Martin's (Summer 2007 Intern) journal to the website. Thank you again, Charlie. Please Click HERE to read it.
- Lots and lots of fencing in the past couple days. The Herder we have with the feeder lambs is figuring out how to fence and that is less work for me.
- I moved the 300 or so ewes I had on dry-land Alfalfa to a new paddock today. It was pouring down rain. That meant I took down about two miles of fence and put up about a mile. That sounds like a lot but when you do fencing for a while, a mile doesn't mean much. When you are talking seven or eight miles then your back starts to hurt just thinking about it. With each post you pound into the ground you ask yourself how you can get a herder to do it for you.
- The Alfalfa those 300 sheep are on now, will last only about five days. Then we have to move them out to Patterson, WA. I don't think my Semi-Truck will be ready by then. I stopped by the shop today to check on it and it was still in pieces. I think my truck likes the shop and so has decided to stay.
- I am helping Cameron put his high-tensile fence down tomorrow. If you don't lower the fence in winter, the weeds cover it and push is down. So, we are going to lower about 10 miles of fence in a day. I hope we get it all done. Katie is going to come out and give us a hand.
- I bought a suit for the wedding. This is the first suit I have ever bought, that was not from a second hand shop. It is black with a bright green shirt and tie. I like green. It is the color of spring grass. Green grass means big lambs and fat happy ewes. Big lambs mean I can survive for another year. Green is good. Did you know; Green is the easiest color on the eye when you look at something for a long time. The cavemen knew that green meant survival. Green still means survival to me. I am a caveman.
- I am not sure Gale is bred. She is still kissing upto Mick's kennel. I am very protective of her when she is in heat. I refuse to let her get bred to anyone but Don Helsey's Cap. She is a lot like her mother, she likes the boys.
- Diane's Lucy is doing very well. She is figuring out the big band of sheep and the big fields. She is still not sure about herself yet but that will take some time. I would like a pup out of her some day. If I can afford one that is. I am going to move about 2200 lambs on Saturday. We will have to move them down the road about a mile onto new grass. I will use Mick and Lucy for this (it is rare that we use only one dog with this number of sheep). I think she will be fine as long as she listens and thinks. These lambs are everything from range lambs to hobby lambs. The hobby lambs are the worse for dogs. They have no fear and can frustrate most dogs. I little bite on the nose usually puts them to rights but some never get it and you don't want a dog picking on them. You just move the rest of the sheep away and hope they follow. I am sure it will be a challenge but that is why I got into this business. I am not sure if Diane will want her back before lambing comes. That is a different challenge in itself.
- We will be having our lambing school again this year. Let me know if you are interested in coming. I am sure the people from last year will tell you how much they learned.
- I have put that herder on a plane back to Peru. That was a very difficult day. He really didn't want to go and it took a couple hours with many phone calls to get him in the truck and on his way home. I ended up driving him all the way to Portland and put him on a plane. I hope I have heard the end of this guy, but I don't think so. I am sure he will make trouble for me even from Peru. The rule: no work, no stay. No matter how much trouble it is for me to put them on the plane back to Peru. There are many, many people who would love to come to the USA legally. This guy just took things for granted and found out the hard way, that he was not going to get away with it.
- I bred Gale to Don Helsely's Cap. She got bred twice, I hope it took.
- So I am into my semi truck and sheep trailer for like almost $20,000 at this point and I have only hauled one load of sheep. We got the sheep loaded on it (311 sheep). We were side loading on a hill and the truck frame got twisted enough to make the fan hit on the housing and put a hole in the radiator. I tried to fix the radiator and just made it much worse. We unloaded the sheep and put them back into the yards. Cameron hauled his load to the circles and turned around to come back for another load of my sheep. We unloaded the second load in the dark. I don't know if you have ever unloaded sheep in the dark but it is not much fun. The sheep cannot see the ramp or ground or anything. You have to put each ewe on the ramp off the trailer. I got kicked in the eye and beat up a bit in the trailer. Anyway, we got the sheep off and onto the grass circle. I still have another load of sheep waiting to move in Pendleton. As soon as my truck is back out of the shop, I will move these ewes to the circles. I look forward to the day when I move my own sheep with my own semi and all goes well. That will be a great day.
- We also moved Cameron's ewes onto the circles the next day. We got Cameron's second load of ewes off the truck at around 1am. I got home at 3am. Sheep farming is fun in the dark.
- I got to Patterson and found that the herder had not done any of the fencing we asked him to do. I was a little upset about it. The new herder will be here from Peru in a few weeks.
- We are getting another 550 lambs in tomorrow. They need to be unloaded at dawn. They we will Vaccinate them with CDT and worm them. Cameron is in Idaho so it will be me and the two good herders. This is a busy time of the year.
- Nine's pups are going very well. Their eyes are opening. I expect them to be running around the paddock any day now. I whish I had some grass by the house to graze so I could bring her closer to the house. This may be her last litter and so I want to watch them close and pick a good female to replace her, in the puppy-making department, so I can get her spayed. She is so good with sheep that I want her to live for may years of service.
- I have gotten a couple requests for an update on what is going on here. This has been a big week. Today I got my first fulltime sheepherder. He is from Peru and has been herding in the USA for about five years. He will only be with us for a year since his work contracts in the USA will be over after that point. He speaks very good English. He said he will teach me Spanish if I help his English. What a good deal.
- We are trucking the band of sheep off the wheat stubble tomorrow and onto grass circles in Patterson, WA. I dropped him off at his camp and told him to gather the sheep and put them in the corrals before dark. He did. What a new feeling that was for me.
- I am not 100% sure about him yet. He has been in the USA for a while and seems to know the system a bit. As long as he works very hard and does the job I will have no problem with him. I am told you can tell a lot about a herder the first couple hours you meet him. If he starts asking for stuff right away, you may have a problem. He asked me for some special food not on the list and that made me wonder a little. I said yes, if he wanted to pay for it out of his pocket. He said then he didn't want it then. Of course if he works hard and does a good job, I have not problem with buying special stuff but not the first day or week or month. I gave him a Border Collie I bought named Lance. When I came back to the camp, a few hours later he said he wanted a new dog. Lance doesn't have any experience he said. I said, I know, that is your job to train him. He says he had some good dogs with his last boss but the boss kept them when he was transferred. I called the last boss to see if I could arrange to get at least one of his old dogs for him. I know how attached you can get to a good sheepdog. I don't hold that against him. First impressions are very interesting.
- My knee-jerk reaction to the herder was to think about giving him my old dog Mick. Then I thought better of it. Mick has been with me for a long time at this point. I think he would either walk all over the herder, or the herder would end up being very hard on him. Either way, not good for Mick or the herder. The only other dog I have at this point is Gale and there is no way I am letting her out of my sight, even for a minute. She is the future of Harlow's Hills West Coast. Without her, all is lost.
- So, I am into this herder for like $400 in supplies at this point. Lets hope he saves me that much in worry and diesel this month.
- That dog I got from Diane Pagel is working very well. She is getting into shape a little more each day. I take her and Gale with me to check the sheep. She doesn't understand working the BIG flock in a BIG field yet but she is starting to. She also doesn't like the four-wheeler very much. I don't know why. As with all dogs, she will work with it if it means she gets to work sheep. This is the first brown and white dog I have ever had for any length of time. She is proving color doesn't matter much. She is catching on very fast in the yards as well. She was in over her head the first couple times pushing that many sheep up (1000 ewes) but she is working it out and is getting much calmer each time she works the yards. I have noticed that most dogs that have not grown up in this line of work are lost in the yards and out in a big paddock. They just don't seem to know where the sheep end and they loss their idea of where they are in relation to the sheep and me. The difference is between the dogs that figure it out quickly and the ones that just never get over it and so don't like this type of work. I can see Lucy (Diane's dog) starting to calm down and figure it out. I am not worried about her at all.
- I finally got my semi-truck all ready to go and and hooked onto my new Semi-sheep trailer. It is very long at 50' and I should be able to get 315 ewes on it at one time. It is a very nice older trailer (1981) and has been well looked after. I can also haul cows and pigs in it if I get a call for it. I plan to take some side jobs in order to pay the trailer off and maybe make a little cash-flow for the sheep. My Semi-truck is running like a champ since I got a complete service done on it.
- My pickup truck is running like crap now, not sure if it is jealous of the semi-truck, so I will take it in for a full service next week.
- I also had a full-service done on the Honda Four-wheeler and she is running better then new. The people at the service shop couldn't believe I put over 6000 miles on a four wheeler in 14 months. I have one word for that, FENCING. Lots and lots of fencing. I gave my old three-wheeler to the herder and he hates it. I love that bike. It just goes to show that some people have no appreciation for the classics.
- I weighed myself at the vets a couple days ago. I am back up to 197lbs. I was down to 180lbs on the mountains. I must be driving my pickup too much and not running after sheep enough.
- Cameron and I currently have a little under 2000 feeder lambs on grass-circles for the winter. We are getting another 550 lambs on Sunday. That should help the cash-flow a little bit. We teamed up with a feeder-lamb guy out of the Willamette Valley in western Oregon. This way, he pays us for the gains on the lambs and he can run sheep out here on the east-side that would not do well on the coast where he is. I just hope the check is big enough to cover the cost of the herder we have with them and all the extra work involved. I will be very happy if the lambs gain over .2lbs per day. I have done a bit of custom grazing and it usually works out very well for the owner and me.
- I think we have all of our started Guardian Dogs sold at this point. I have been getting lots of calls about them but I work hard to make sure that our Guardian dogs get placed correctly. I have sold Guardian dogs in operations ranging from 5 acre hobby farms to 2000 sheep operations. I find it works much better if we let the dogs grow up a bit before I sell them. Then I know their personality before we sell them.
- Goats must be an upcoming trade. I have been getting a lot of calls from goat people. My dogs have no problem changing over to guarding goats. However, I have one dog I would not sell to a goat person. I think the goats would push him around too much. I have sold him to a women to run with her chickens. I think this would be perfect for him.
- We got another 700 feeder lambs in today. I have a new Border Collie, Lucy, in for a couple months. I used her to keep the sheep up to the trailer while we unloaded. She did very well. She is brown and white. This is my first Border Collie that isn't black and white. It will be interesting to see if there is a difference. Many years ago, shepherds wouldn't keep any dogs that where no black and white.
- Our herder will be here in the next couple weeks. I am looking hard for an electronic translator. Anyone use one before and have suggestions? I have been working on my old Layton RV trailer. I have it cleaned out at this point. I also sealed the roof to keep the water out. I have to make a new door for it. I don't remember if the heater works or not. I will try that next.
- We drenched and vaccinated 1200 lambs in about 8 hours two days ago. The lambs arrived at the grass-circle @ noon and we started @ 1pm. It was Cameron, Katie the Herder and myself. I did the CDT and Cameron drenched. It was a long 7 hours but we got it done. Even after it was dark we kept going and got it done by 9pm. We didn't want the lambs to have to stay off grass for any longer then absolutely necessary so we pushed on and got it done. Days like that remind me why I look forward to days when there isn't much going on. Those days are few.
- Katie's sister came for a visit today so I had a good excuse to sleep until 7am and do some calling around and book work in the morning. I find that if I don't do the office work in the morning then I just keep putting it off and it doesn't get done. After they left, Katie and I met Cameron up at the Mountains and we rounded up some sheep Cameron was missing. It was after dark before we got them back to the Herder's camp and gave him some food and water for the week.
- I worked with Cameron's other herder down on the circle putting up fence yesterday. I whish I would have taken Spanish in school. I feel so stupid trying to pickup a few words here and there. I am actively looking for an electronic translator device to use. I need to learn fast. This herder is the hardest working person I have ever seen. Makes me feel lazy.
- A friend of mine, Dian sent me one of her Border Collies to run for a few months. Her name is Lucy. I just got her last night. She seems very nice so far.
- It seems I may have a herder sooner then I thought. A friend of mine is selling some sheep and will have two herders available. One that is older and a really good herder and one that is younger but can drive. You may as well flip a coin. Both are good. I have to get my old Layton, trailer out and clean it up to get ready. I was going to buy a new used trailer but decided I should make good use of the one I have. The nice thing about the Layton, other then I know everything about it, since I lived in it for five months, is that it is high off the ground so it should be good in the mountains. I never thought I would step foot in it again once I bought my new trailer but keeping it was a good idea.
- I sold one of the the started Livestock Guardian dogs yesterday. It was from Nine's last litter. What a great dog he is. I know he will do very well for his new flock of sheep. I also got some pictures of a couple pups I sold this spring. They are doing very well. I debate with myself about how many LGDs I should keep. If I could afford the dog food I would keep them all. As I always say, Keep as many Guardian dogs as you can afford to feed. You don't have to save very many lambs to pay for a bag of dog food do you?
- In the words of Jack Kerouac: "Home I'll never be." Some days, from 6am until after 8pm, I feel like I never get out of my truck. Driving from one place to another getting things ready, taking things down, catching sheep, fixing fence, moving sheep, doctoring sheep, getting supplies and the entire time; on the phone organizing more things to drive around and do. I look back at this summer, herding sheep in the mountains, with longing. Funny how you remember good things and forget the struggle, worry and hard work.
- I finally found the ewe I have been looking for on the stubble today. She was sick and needed doctoring but she was hiding from me. I got a phone call that she was sitting next to the fence looking bad. By the time I got there she was gone. Today I caught up to her and got her sorted out.
- I got a call that one of my Suffolk rams was outside of the fence. After, driving up to the mountains and down and to Boardman and Pilot Rock and on my way back to Boardman, I was in Pendleton, where my sheep are now. I went right over to see what was going on. Somebody hit the fence and so it was not hard for a sheep to push through it. But, my ewes never even thought about leaving. However, if you have Suffolk sheep you know how hard they are to fence. Of course I had a ram standing on the wrong side of the fence, once he heard me coming he was working hard to get back in before I let the dogs after him. Just like a kid in trouble.
- We have the feeder-lambs coming in tomorrow. I have to get down to Boardman and put the Pratleys up. Get the footbath setup, pick up the wormer, and CDT. Thankfully, we have the herder down there to help.
- Like I have said before, you need an unlimited number of dogs and wire if you are going to run sheep. Up in the mountains Cameron's herder was bring some lost sheep back to camp with his Border Collie. Then somebody started shooting a gun. The Border Collie spooked off. The herder stayed with the sheep and got them home. When he went back for the dog, somebody had picked the dog up and brought it home. So, they were short a dog. I let them use one of my new pups, Greg. I need him to get some training in Spanish anyway. I know how hard the Mountains can be when you are short on dogs. With a little luck, Greg will be fully trained in Spanish when my herder gets here.
- We introduced Rambouillet Rams into the replacement ewe-lambs today. We put in 4 ram-lambs. The rams are good sized, at least 140lbs. I think they should do a good job. However, I will put a clean-up 3yo ram in for the last couple weeks of breeding.
- We also introduced some Rambouillet Rams into Mador's ewes today. I helped transport the rams for her. The ewes still have a few lambs on them but the rams went to work. We are working on getting some more grass for the lambs to go onto. They are a bit small still.
- I lost one of my teaser rams to fly-strike today as well. It has been a long day. My teaser rams are a bit old at this point. I caught the fly-strike when he got hit but even after shearing him and getting the strike treated with insecticide he still went down hill. That is the thing with fly-strike, it usually hits sheep that already have some other things going on. Old ewes or sick or thin ewes seems to get is the most. Unless, they have an open wound, then it doesn't matter how good they are doing, the flies can get them.
- I have put an add in the paper for sheep hauling. I am looking for a ways to make a little extra cash-flow this year. I would also like to be able to pay off my sheep-trailer with it. We will see how many people need sheep moved this fall.
- I have submitted my application for a sheepherder. I would like him to get here ASAP. It will cost me some money to have him here but I think he will pay his way very quickly.
- Cameron and I have contracted to custom graze 2000 lambs this fall and winter. That is where the herder will pay for himself. We have plenty of grass to graze. I figure, we should not let one blade of grass go un-grazed as long as we have the sheep to eat it. I should say, as long as we can get somebody to custom graze sheep with us, to eat it.
- I am in the market for a old, but working, RV trailer of pickup camper. Email me if you have one.
- Our summer Intern has returned to school for the year. I thank you, Charlie Martin. You have been a great help to us. I expect Charlie has set the bar very high for our future summer interns. Next year I will have very high expectations indeed. All summer, I don't think he lost or broke one tool of mine. He found many sheep for me in the Mountains and helped doctor many. I showed him all my accounting and he helped me figure out our new budget for this coming year. He has a journal that I will publish as soon as he gets it typed out for me. I told him to keep the parts that he doesn't want everyone to read out. I don't want everyone to know what a mean boss I can be. In my defense, I don't think I yelled at him one time this summer. And, I don't think he yelled at me either. I know we both must have, at one point, wanted to.
- I think the lessons Charlie learned this summer are the same lesson he would learn at any small business. The business is number one and everything else is second. I tired to be a good mentor to him and I only hope I succeed and teaching him something other then how to heard sheep, run a Border Collie, complain about lamb buyers, doctor sick sheep, figure out how long the feed will last and how to load sheep on a truck. I hope he has many life lessons that will serve him well in his future. He is a very good worker and thinker. I know he will do well, whatever it is.
- Katie and I will be married soon. I hope we have our first child very soon there after. I look forward to marriage and fatherhood. What is the point of working this hard if you don't have somebody coming up after you to enjoy the fruits of you labors?
- I bought a total of 17 Suffolk rams this week. Most are Ram-lambs but none are under 160lbs at this point. I have a couple yearly Suffolk Rams out there and they went right to work. I also have my Rambouillet rams out there and I know they are very good workers. When I checked the sheep today, on the three-wheeler, I could see that almost all the rams where working on at least one or two ewes. When it comes time to breed your ewes, you really don't want to mess around. You need to be sure that EVERYONE gets bred. I am debating if I need to bring in leased rams at this point or not. Most of the Suffolk rams have only been in for a couple days, so they are feeling good and doing the job. I wonder how many days it will take for them to start getting tired and stop breeding. I have a total of 22 rams in there, 5 of them are Rambouillets. With that kind of ram power I should be able to breed 1000 ewes. I sorted off the replacements and put them on irrigated ground. I don't have any rams in with them yet. I am waiting on some more Rambouillet rams to come in. If they don't get here soon, I will have to take a few Suffolk rams off my ewes and put them with the replacements. Then I will start to worry a bit. I wonder how many will come off the range at the end of breeding. I would say about half.
- I finally got all the wedding invitations out this week. Katie is happy.
- It seems I am having to spend the first couple hours of each day just doing the books and getting all of my paper work in order. Not what I like, but it must be done. I recently bought Quick Books and will move my operation over to it on the first of October. My banker prefers it.
- If you know Spanish and would like to translate for me, email me.
- The Border Collies and Carlos, are coming along well. I have taken to splitting up the Border Collie pups during the day, taking one to work with me each day. I think it helps them get more accustom to being alone.
- I fixed two flats today, one on the 4-wheeler and one on the three-wheeler. I love Honda. My old 3-wheeler sat for over two months and start right up when I put gas in it. Somebody had stolen the gas out of it where I had it stored for the summer. It had a flat so I expect they didn't think it ran and so just took the gas and left the bike. The gas-line was pulled on it and drain of all the gas in the tank.
- Each day comes and you wonder if it will be a good day. The difference between a good day and a bad day is up to you. I lost the gas but the 3-wheeler was there. At one point in the day I wonder if it was a good day. Black or white.
- What the hell is going on in the housing market. I mean, I hear everyday on NPR how messed up the market is right now, but I looked at a place today that had 13 irrigated acres on it and they wanted $350,000. What a joke. I am waiting for the housing correction to make it to Milton-Freewater, OR. These housing prices are not based on how productive the land is. They seems to be based on how much money you have. Who is buying these houses and why. To be out in the "country" with one or two horse? Where are actual farmers suppose to buy land? Perhaps I should look in South America. The person in charge of the place took one look at me, in my dirty pants and worn shirt and said to themselves, "he is not our buyer". Of course I am not your buyer when you are selling land for 10 times what you could actually make off the land ranching or farming. You would have to grow drugs on that land to make the payments. As a people, we worry about where our food comes from, as a people we don't do much about making it possible for a young person to make a start.
- I am now reading the CDL book. With some work and memory, I should have my CDL by the end of next week. Call me if you need sheep moved.
- I have Tom (9 mouths old) and Travis (a yearling) with the yearlings on the irrigated ground. They are doing a great job. Livestock Guardian dogs have been sent to us by the gods of sheepherding.
- What a very long day it was. It all started well enough at 5am. Then went down hill. Katie and I went to the rodeo last night, to remind myself why I am a sheepherder and not a cowboy.
- Cameron and I put up the fence on the irrigated ground yesterday. I realized we were not going to be able to get the whole thing fenced in a day so we fenced off a small section.
- Today, we went down to the stubble and put up the corrals, Katie, Charlie and myself. The double-decked trailer had a bad tire when we took Cameron's culls to the sale. Once I had the trailer there, I found that I had two bad tires to replace. Isn't life fun. Katie and Charlie gathered the sheep for me while I was gone but I was gone for a long time. Once I got back, the sheep where hot and the dogs hotter. We got both my double-decked trailer loaded and the brown bummer-pull trailer (only 25 head). Long story short, it was well after dark before we got the second load of sheep into the irrigated pasture. I just hope I wake up tomorrow morning to find everyone stayed in the pasture. I also brought the LGD Travis and Tom to the pasture with the ewes. What a couple great dogs. They have been barking and so, I know they are working.
- The hardest days are the first couple, on new pasture. Anything can happen.