Sunday, April 23, 2017

Walk With Kelpies

The Kelpies help with keeping the mood light as we deal with naked sheep, wet snow and colder temperatures, all the while worrying about Lily.  She is indoors with us and has adjusted well enough that she now sleeps rather than stress and cry.  We visit the veterinarian tomorrow to see how the wound is healing and if we can begin to salvage what is left of the muscle and tissue in that leg.

Friday, April 21, 2017

An Injury Forces Lily Off Duty

All the sheep on the place are still being held adjacent to the yard on account of some cold weather after shearing.  We’ll send them out to pasture tomorrow, meanwhile we have been feeding hay to them here. 

Yesterday morning I drove through the main gate, parked adjacent to the first paddock and hopped off the tractor, lifting four of the seven bowls of dog food from their holding place.  Usually four white dogs meet me here.  This morning only Tex, Wren and Birdie, the new pup, came up for breakfast.  I fed them and climbed back on the tractor to head over and feed the main flock.  I’d come back to this paddock afterward and feed Zeus who seldom approached when the other dogs were around and whom I was sure was sound asleep on the far, south side of the hill.  Lily was the missing white dog but maybe she was in the next paddock this morning.

Oakley and Whiskey approached while I fed hay.  They were looking for breakfast but still no sign of Lily yet.  Hay feeding finished I returned to the starting paddock and left the tractor.  I headed over on foot to check where Zeus was.  As I crested the hill he raised his front end and took a long and deep stretch, looking to be in no rush to rise from his slumber. I dropped a dish near him and saw that Lily was further down, resting in the piled hay.  Lily always investigates our approach even if she doesn’t want our affections.  I made my way to her, wondering what was up. Still she did not rise.

When injuries occur to guardian dogs one is often making best guesses as to what the hell happened. Most often you didn’t see a thing; you go out to check your dogs and discover one is injured.  That’s as much as you know.  A quick investigation of Lily showed that one hind leg was badly injured.

It only took a moment to conclude that we needed the help of a veterinarian and as it turned out that’s where we spent the rest of the day.  Lily tangled with something that ripped a significant mass of muscle, two layers deep, from the back side of her hind leg.  As a result from the rip, the remaining muscle is pulled apart from the skin all the way from the top of her leg to her toes.  Nerves behind the muscle are exposed but not torn, however they aren’t responding either.  She may or may not regain full use of her leg.  The major vein in her leg was not touched. It is too risky to close the wound at this stage.  It’s packed with gel and gauze which is held in place with shoe laces and stitch loops (picture a ladies corset).   Our best summation is that Lily met up with a beaver which we’re seeing more of this year.

So Lily is definitely off duty for awhile, although each time she gets outside the house she leans toward the pasture where she thinks she should be.  She doesn’t have much energy at this point but if I drop the lead she begins a slow three legged hop to the gate.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Unshorn and Shorn

Two different photos, obviously taken on different days but kinda cool to see them side by side.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Needle Felted Artwork, Bearded Collie

The handful of Bearded Collies I know, I know through herding and the reference photo for this artwork was provided by a friend who has been to our herding clinics almost every year we’ve hosted them.  This is her dog, Drift.

Months ago, when I first asked her about the photo I planned on drawing the scene.  When I came back to the photo more recently I changed my mind and decided to attempt doing it with wool.

I worked on this piece in every spare moment I had this weekend.  I was wary of it when I started but once the first layer was in place I sensed what it could be and had to see if that was the case or not.

The piece is made with a variety of wools including Shetland, Corriedale, Romney, Border Leicester and a bit of yarn I don’t know the make up of.
No title. Approximately 12 x 16 inches.  Needle felted.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Shearing Extras

The first group of sheep shorn are the rams, this way when they are done they can be moved out of the way, remaining separate from the ewes.  Doing the largest sheep at the start of the day also means the shearers don’t have to tackle that at the end of the day when they’re at the lowest energy point.  On account of having ewes with lambs this year they were also a separate group and were shorn following the rams.  Lambs were caught and moved to a pen and ewes were able to rejoin with them after shearing. Then the family units were moved out of the way.  After that we started on the main flock.

Since it was sunny out and we parked the ewes outdoors in the alleyway, the ewes were moved around the bugle and into the single file raceway.  One person and dog looked after this task. There is another person or two along the raceway to keep the flow of sheep going up to the shearing floor.  Sheep are masters at backing up when they reach every suspicious spot along the way, even stepping over anti-backup bars.  Gates along the way and butterfly doors seem to be the best at preventing them from backing up.

Most of the extra help is utilized around the shearing floor.  As soon as a fleece is shorn from an animal it is picked up off the floor, out of the way of the shearer who is moving to get the next sheep. The fleece is tossed onto the skirting table where it undergoes a quick skirting.  The tags (any wool containing manure) are tossed aside, the belly wool and wool from the neck area (often the most contaminated part of a fleece) are bagged together.  The remainder of the fleece is rolled and placed in the maw of the wool packer.  Throughout this process, the shearing floor is regularly swept to clear it of bits of wool.  We are set up for six shearing stations and with six shearers shearing at once there is a constant flow of fleeces coming off the floor.  There isn’t time to be choosy about skirting, you skirt quickly and clear the table for the next fleece.

The shearers are a hired crew, all from within our province, two of them are women.  The two visiting shearers were from New Zealand.

Throughout a day of shearing I’m pretty much in all places at different times, moving sheep, picking fleeces, skirting, packing, and then tending to coffee, lunch and supper details.  It really is a whirlwind of a day but made so much the smoother by the helping hands.  The day goes by fast and at the end we’re all ready to put our feet up.

As for the guardian dogs, they follow the sheep when the flock comes in, however, they make themselves scarce once the action begins.  Oakley always comes by to see what’s going on but then finds a place to sleep for the day.  Lily, Zeus and Wren are not interested in visitors and were hardly seen throughout the day.  I placed Tex, Whiskey and our new pup (I have to catch you up on that addition) in a dog run for the day for safer keeping.  Whiskey and Tex both like to be right in with the sheep and the pup is often underfoot.

The night before shearing day; Whiskey sitting with ewes