Thursday, March 01, 2018

Lambing Day at Black Cat Farm/Boulder County Open Space

Super fun afternoon with some sheep and lambs.



Because . . . baby lambs!






Boulder County leases its Open Space lands out to farmers and ranchers and every once in a while they have some activity on the lands so the public can see the importance of agriculture (done right) to the lands.  Black Cat Farm is an organic and biodynamic (better than organic) farm using regenerative agriculture methods and humane animal husbandry.  They lease several plots of land throughout the county and raise sheep, pigs, chickens, turkeys and geese, mostly for the 2 restaurants they own in town.  I've never been to them, they are WAY out of our price range, but if I was in a different tax bracket and into spending money on fancy restaurants I would totally go there.  But more importantly I'm glad the county is leasing to folks like this who are improving the land and providing the community (albeit an elite segment of the community) with good quality meat raised and treated humanely.

The owner, who is also a chef at the restaurants, was there to explain his farming methods and answer questions.  I had a LOT of questions and I enjoyed listening to the answers to other people's questions.  He was super patient and spent a lot of time and energy interacting with the public.  He had no background in farming and learned a lot from books, seminars (I think) and YouTube.

Mr. Bad Ass Ram.  I don't think he cared for me pointing the camera at him.  He kept a wary eye on me and I kept my distance (this photo is zoomed).


There were about 250 sheep and lambs in all but only 3 rams.  The rams are purebred Tunis and Karakul and the females are a mix of those breeds.  He chooses female breeding stock based on parasite resistance, mothering skills, and history of producing twins with no regard to whether they are purebred or not.  Because farmers don't breed for 'nonsense' as the owner put it (cough, AKC, cough).

There were 2 livestock guardian dogs, both of which were super friendly with the public and excellent guard dogs.

This big mushpie went up to everbody, looking for snugs and tolerating the general public's mishandling (leaning over their heads, grabbing their noses, etc., I was horrified but the dogs tolerated it).  But when a runner or bikes went by past the fence line they took off running.


The dogs are Akbash and a mix of Akbash with Anatolian Shepherd, Great Pyrenees and Kangal.  Akbash are not recognized by the AKC so have not been ruined by the show ring but Great Pyrenees and Anatolian Shepherd are so I'm wondering if the mixing is an attempt to breed some working ability back in to the AKC dogs.  I had a chat with the owner about the training they do, I've long wondered how they balance socializing the dogs to people and livestock and if it matters.  According to him the dogs will not want to stay with the livestock if they spend too much of their puppyhood with people.  One of the dogs he had was a reject from Joel Salatin's farm.  His interns kept petting the dogs and the dogs would consequently hang out where the people were rather than in the fields with the livestock.  The Black Cat owner was able to rehab her enough that she was useful but it was a lot of work and hard for him and his family because they had to ignore her.  He said with a puppy it's a matter of striking a balance between human and livestock exposure and there is no solid formula. 

This guy did take some time to play with a mouse.  Even working dogs need some play time.  The mouse was pretty smart and kept hiding underneath the dog.  He did get away eventually.



In all, a fun day.  I think I'd like to have sheep, they seem docile and easy to manage.  But house first, then sheep.





Thursday, January 25, 2018

Tess Turns One

Happy Birthday to Tessie.  Salmon Doggie Birthday Cake all around.


And the shocking truth of no 'sit stay' at a year old.  I know.  She was so shut down as a pup that I wanted to focus more on encouraging behaviors rather than working on impulse control.  Because you have to have some impulses before you can control them.  It is becoming an issue at agility class because there are some exercises where it would be good to have a lead out.  My agility instructor gave me a month so I have a solid goal to shoot for.  That was 2 weeks ago and we're getting there.  Tess is doing much better than Ruby but Ruby is doing o.k.  We'll all get there.

Tess' birthday was actually December 28 according to the rescue but I'm not sure if that's her fake birthday that they had to give her to get her out of Texas because in Texas your 4th grader can take an AK47 to school but you can't take a dog over state lines unless it's vaccinated and the pups were too young so the rescue kind of fudged it.  And who really knows for sure anyway.  The pups were pulled out from under the house on February 4th and I think the guess was that they were around 4 weeks old.  So I'm going to put Tess' official birthday and Jan. 3rd, 2017.  Because why not.  Lola's birthday was the end of December and it was always so confusing to remember what year she was born since it was so close to the year turning over so January will make things easier to remember.

She's doing really well, she's come so far.  She loves going for walks and is very confident.  She still wants nothing to do with other dogs but so far is not reactive to them.  She ignores them and will try to get away if they get too close.  This can still change so I'm forever working on this.  I've taken her to a quiet DOCNA trial and a busy USDAA trial, both indoors at the same place, and she did great walking around.  She won't go in the bleachers which is not a huge deal.  I was mostly working on shaping her to do it since she seemed o.k. with all the other hub bub going on around her.  I got her to walk under the measuring stanchion on the ground with the measure part up high.  She took treats from some strangers.  She was excited and confident outside around the grounds, there was lots of yummy goose and horse poop.  I don't mind the horse poop but too much goose poop can be toxic so I had to limit her time in those areas where it was bad.

She's doing well at agility, still sometimes alarm barking at people but it's easier now to stop her.  This week we worked on front crosses and the teeter and I've got some video footage of her.  She looks so very slow to me, even trotting at times but the exercise had so many turns.  It felt like it was more about me learning the handling and timing than her getting to run.  She's so handler focused in part because of the type of handling work we've been doing.  I need to get her out to the practice field and let her go on some extension type exercises.  But I haven't been to the field in over a year, maybe two because I can't reserve it just for myself and Tess will be scared if another dog comes, no way she'll do anything.  I'm always taking a chance that I'll get something set up then have to leave.  I was so sure I'd have my own place by now.  Maybe I'll take some jumps to the dog park super early, that way if someone comes and I have to leave at least I didn't waste any money.  Hmmm.  I did have an agility friend offer for me to come over to practice.  She's almost an hour's drive away but I think it'll be worth it.  Now if only I can remember to contact her to set something up.

A short clip from Wednesday's class.  There's an example of her alarm barking at the start.  She's doing it more to get my attention than because she's scared.  She knows the guy she's barking at and he's given her zillions of treats over the past few months.

 

I was super pleased with the teeter.  She doesn't like putting her back feet on the planks but we've been practicing 2 on/2 off on a short plank in the living room propped against the couch and she thinks that's a great game.  Now to get her over her fear of heights.



Overall Tess is doing well at her one year mark.  She's always going to be afraid of new things but at least she's happy, comfortable, confident in her normal routine. 

Thursday, January 04, 2018

Waste Of Time, Sitting Still

I somehow managed to put my back out on Friday and spent the few days before and after New Year's mostly lying on top of a heating pad with walks interspersed here and there.  The spasm finally started to let up enough in the past couple of days to let me go to agility class and take more frequent and longer walks.  Being sedentary is really bad for a back spasm (and my sanity and motivation) but so is fighting through the pain so I've been working my way through it the best that I know how.  Probably should have headed to the Rec Center to use the sauna or had a good hot bath with Epsom salts but it's only been a day or so that I've had enough mobility to drive.  I'll hit up the Rec Center tomorrow, maybe even swim a bit of the masters workout if I feel o.k. but of course not fast.

I think it was a combination of shoveling snow then shoveling again a few days later then a weight workout and then finally a masters swim workout that had a sprint set of kicking with a kickboard that finally broke the camel's back.  The few days of bitter cold didn't help either.  Thankfully the sun is out and we're back to normal winter and I'm hoping I'll be completely back to normal activity by next week.  Should probably hit up the chiropractor, I haven't been in about 6-8 months or so and that's not helping either.  Insurance doesn't pay for it anymore and the schlep out to Louisville has become more and more irritating as traffic grows ever worse.

I should probably have a nice long list of goals for the year and I do have some but hmmm, I'm feeling uncharacteristically unmotivated.  The big goal would be to get a new place but that's not something I can completely control.  Other than deciding to make some compromises which I'm only a little bit willing to do.  The one compromise I feel comfortable with, though not happy about, is being open to a larger house.  We accidentally looked at a place that was almost perfect - 14 acres, a decent location and reasonable distance from neighbors, awesome water rights plus a pond and a creek running through the property.  A huge outbuilding.  The house was super nice and even had a sauna, but . . . 4200 square feet!!!  Crazy.  There was just no way.  The price was good too but no.  Neither of us could wrap our heads around the size of it.  But we may have to consider places up to 3000 square feet when 1400-1700 would be perfect.  I hate big houses, they cost a fortune to heat and insure and who wants to clean all that when it's only 2 people?  No thanks.  But unfortunately it seems like the larger pieces of land in the better locations with good water rights have big houses on them.  Makes sense I guess, the richer people would own the bigger, better plots of land and the rich do like their big trophy houses.  I'm optimistic though that this spring will be it, the right place will come along.  This works out better for the guy who wants to buy our house so I'm feeling like it's all going to come together this spring.

So once again it's difficult to come up with goals with so much uncertainty.  But recently I heard someone say, 'Don't wish your life away', to a 7 months pregnant woman who was living for the day the baby would finally be here.  And this is good advice, even for such a woman.  What's that other saying, 'Every day is a gift that you can't give back' or something?  Was an REI commercial I think, or some sportswear company.  Because, you know, t.v. commercials provide the best life philosophies.  But in this case it wrings true, at least for me right here, right now.  I don't want to take another year off of everything in anticipation of maybe moving.  So I suppose now that the haze of back spasm pain is mostly lifted I should come up with some sorta goals, or at least a sorta plan for the year that's flexible enough to accommodate a possible move.  Yeah, I'll let you know when I figure that out.

In the meantime I'll continue with agility foundation class.  It's still too early in the process to set a goal for trialing.  And I have the problem of I'm not sure if Tess will be able to trial and Ruby, well, Ruby can't do USDAA because even in Performance she'd have to jump 12" and that's just too high for her.  She can jump 8" in DOCNA but ugh, DOCNA.  I could almost put up with the boring courses but one of the owner's of DOCNA felt empowered by the current political climate to start posting racist bullshit on Facebook.  And I have a zero tolerance policy of racist bullshit.  I figured out how to turn it off my Facebook but ugh, I'm not sure I can hand money over to them now.  So I might be through with DOCNA for keeps.  AKC is also out of the question.  I don't think I can go back to NADAC with the super boring courses and weird rules and equipment standards.  I live in hope of UKI.  Or maybe screw trialing, so expensive anyway.  But maybe I can come up with some smaller specific goals.

I'm also not sure about going back to triathlon racing.  On the one hand, having a race on the calendar forces me into more formal training.  On the other hand, meh, maybe I'm happy enough doing my own stuff and can muster some discipline to be a little more organized and do a bit more than I did last year.  I like having goals though.  But I'm bored with all the local races.  Hmmm, maybe I'll plan on being fit for racing but keep the schedule open and travel last minute to an out of town race as my schedule permits (or doesn't).  I don't know, these 'goals' seem flaky and I hate flaky.

Think I'll go play with the dogs a bit then fire up the heating pad again and have another think on it.