Artic Blast!!!

Hey, you all up north … keep your cold up there.  We don’t want it.  We are not prepared for sub-20 degree temperatures down here in the south.  Lots of us live in cardboard houses with little insulation.  It’s freaking cold!  Agh!

It’s much harder caring for animals when it’s this cold.  Water freezes and they need extra food.  This afternoon, when the thermometer reaches a toasty 32 degrees, we’ll re-set the fence … hopefully.  If the lawnmower doesn’t start, which it may not, we may not be able to move them.  Lawnmowers are not made to run in freezing temperatures.

Of course, caring for animals when it’s 90+ degrees isn’t easy either.

We decided to pack up the agility equipment and deliver it Saturday afternoon rather than Sunday morning as originally planned.  Glad we made that decision.  I was nervous about how I’d feel about closing and locking that door.  While the equipment was still here, I could have changed my mind and re-set it up in a different location.  It’s done.  It’s gone.  While we were in Charlotte, we stopped to visit Fern.  She looks fabulous and seems very happy.

On Friday, before it got so cold, we got a new tarp on the goat shelter.  The tarp we bought is 30′ x 15′ which gives you an idea of how difficult it was to manage.  If that shelter comes down again, we’ll find some way to buy another ShelterLogic building and put that up.  Covered chain link dog runs just don’t cut it as well as the ShelterLogic buildings do.  In fact, once some money frees up here, we will buy another ShelterLogice building for the goats.  In between cusses while getting the tarp over the frame and tightening it, Wally said that even if we have to sell a few sheep to afford a ShelterLogic building, we will do so.

Also on Friday, we got the back side of Merlin’s ShelterLogic building on.  Now all we have to do is get some cattle panels in there so I can hang his hay and grain feeders and he’ll be all set.  I don’t know how much he goes in the building, but it’s there if he needs it.

Fern (the goat) came back in heat on Friday so we had to bring her back up to Janice’s to be bred again.  Hopefully three times will be the charm.  Otherwise, she’s going to make a very expensive freezer goat.  I’m not happy with the situation.  I wonder now if the reason why she kidded in July was because they had a hard time getting her bred.  That sort of puts me in a quandary.  If she gets bred, do I sell her once she freshens and let someone else deal with this issue, if there is indeed an issue, or do I keep her and hope that this is an isolated incident.  Whatever decision I make, it isn’t going to be an easy one.  I like her, but we can’t afford to keep animals that are not producing in some way.

In a little bit more than a month I’ll be milking again.  Angel, Addie and Billie are all huge.  They are all due before the middle of February.  I’ll be glad to be milking again.

I’m not much for making resolutions, but starting next week, I’m going to try to make the commitment to work Split enough so that she can be useful.  She’s almost there.  I put her on the goats Friday morning and she did a good job.  Working the dairy goats is tough on a dog.  They challenge and do not keep together.  I am so looking forward to having goat kids to work her on.  That will coincide perfectly with the sheep lambing.  When they have young lambs on them, I won’t be able to use them much, but I will be able to use the goat kids. I’m really excited about working this little dog.  She’s very, very nice.  After working her on the adult goats on Friday, I realized just how nice she really is.  I don’t know if I’ll ever get her papers, but quite frankly, I don’t give a damn.  She’s going to work well with papers or not.

Also, now that I have all the equipment that I need, I am going to start doing ground work in earnest with Merlin.  Over the holidays, Wally and I have been watching Clinton Anderson DVDs.  There’s a woman who lives quite close to me who’s been kind enough to lend me her DVDs.  These are very, very expensive DVDs so I’m honored that she trusts me enough to let me borrow them.  You can bet she’ll get them back in as soon as I look at them.  I’m still missing one of the sheepdog DVDs that I lent out months ago and can’t get her to answer my e-mails or voice mails asking for it back.  That’s just plain rude.

Clinton Anderson’s methods are very successful.  What I particularly like about him is that he tells it like it is and some of the things that comes out of his mouth are hysterically funny.  The equipment I was missing was a rope “cowboy” halter and a lead rope that was long enough to lunge with.  I also got rope reins for my bridle.  Now, all I need to do is to get out there and do it.  I’d love to get Merlin to the point where he has a lot of respect for me and is soft and supple under saddle so that when I do go back to work, I’ll be able to get out and ride him with minimal ground work to be done prior to riding.  Right now, when I get on him, it’s like a rocket launching.  That’s dangerous.

It is interesting to me how similar Clinton Anderson’s methods are to training sheepdogs.  He uses a lot of pressure and release.  Working an animal that outweighs you by as many as 1,000 pounds is different than working with a less than 50 pound dog, but the results are the same.

Speaking of training sheepdogs, Beverly Lambert, one of the top Border Collie handlers in the United States posted a link to her Blog where she details her trip to Scotland and Wales to look for a new trial dog.  I wonder why she couldn’t breed her own or find a suitable one here in the United States.  She ended up buying two bitches.  I guess that’s a good indication of the quality of dog here in the States vs. Scotland or Wales.  That’s sad.  Even if I could afford a trip overseas to buy another dog or two, I’d have to say I’d just as soon stay home and work with the two I have.

I taped the Tournament of Roses Parade and today is a very good day to curl up close to the kerosene heater and wait for it to warm up enough to go out and do a few chores.  I’m glad we got all of our running around done yesterday so we can hole up and relax most of today.  I pulled a recipe for Santa Fe Stew which uses sweet potatoes, black beans and pork and plan to make that later today.  I’ll mix up a batch of corn bread to go with it and we should have a wonderful supper.

Until later …