Monday, June 11, 2018

The Merry Months of May and June

We got a pleasant surprise in early May.  After a year's vacancy, the owl house is again occupied.  We saw Owlivia, and eastern screech owl, sitting in the door dozing.  Presumably her owlets have hatched and it's a little crowded inside, not to mention hot. 

We have watched their shadows flying to and fro from the owl house just at dusk for several evenings.  After the house wasn't used last year, we moved it to a different location farther from the BBQ pit and outdoor fireplace.  I guess that is what the owls wanted.  This Owlivia is a different bird from the female that has been our backyard resident for several years.  Owlivia #1 was gray, and this one is what they call the brown morph.  She is beautiful and we hope she and Oliver will be regular residents.

Screech owls weren't the only ones to have new babies this spring.  Rue's and my herding instructor, Michele McGuire of Paws4Ewe stock dog training welcomed a new litter of pups. Here they are at two weeks with their mom, Bugsy.

And here are a couple of them at six weeks.  It's a treat to get a "puppy fix" when Rue and I visit each week.

Michele's mare, Marley, was also having a good time the last time we visited.

We recently had a very special visit with good friends Jimmy Joe and Danine Jacks.  JJ, you may recall, has been my friend since we were in grade school.  He and Nine were our companions and tour guides in 2012 and 2013 when we visited them in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. 

We only had a couple of days together this trip, as they were in the States for a grand-daughter's wedding.  We did have time for a good visit and to share some excellent Texas steaks, though.  

We look forward to spending more time with Jimmy Joe and Nine soon.  If they don't come back "home" soon for another visit, we may pack up and go to see them!

It has been a lovely spring at the farm, with good rains early in the year.  Spiderwebs covered with dew often adorn last year's dry vegetation when we go for our morning walks.

For once, winter wasn't followed immediately by summer.  It was really spring for several glorious months...and that was much appreciated.  We have had rain, and ants have been protecting their burrows by building little walls around keep out the water I assume. 

Rue and Colt discovered the remains of a mouse nest in this birdhouse.  They tried very hard to get inside, but when they could not they settled for keeping watch in hopes the resident would return.

Kota discovered some fresh cow poop to roll in, then when we got back to Austin she polished off her new perfume with the essence of something very dead.  John had to wash her down with dish soap before he even dared to take her to the dog spa for a thorough scrubbing.  It was her first visit, and she was very proud of the ribbons and bows she came home with.  

The wildflowers at the farm have been lovely as well.  Some are recognizable, like these wine cups and prickly pear cactus blooms.  

Others, while just as beautiful, may be called weeds.  We love them all.

Summer did come, though.  Late May and early June have been unseasonably, HOT.  But the heat didn't keep a number of dedicated handlers and their dogs from showing up on June 2 at Destiny Farm near Bertram for a chance to compete.  Most of the dogs competing were border collies, like Jamie Swanson's Kimber,

and Mary Carter's Will.

But other herding breeds were represented as well.  Michele McGuire ran Trips, a Berger picard.

And Connie Nelin competed with Marty, the briard.

In spite of the heat, there was a lot of cool stuff going on.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Welcome, General

Here is a happy footnote to a sad story.  After losing our Hereford bull, Dude, a few weeks ago, we needed another bull for our herd.  On Tuesday of last week, we again visited Spearhead Ranch near Killeen to look at young bulls General Paul Funk had for sale.  After “interviewing” several likely candidates, we selected Spearhead X51 C.G. III Corps E23.

At only 14 months of age, he is still a teenager and has a lot of growing to do.  However, he wasted no time in exploring his new territory and getting acquainted with our cows and calves.  And, I'm happy to say he got right to work!

We look forward to many good years with The General, and feel sure his disposition and productivity will be a good as his predecessor's.

Saturday, May 12, 2018


Last weekend held new opportunities for owners of dogs that do not regularly get to interact with livestock or experience sights and sounds they might encounter on a farm.  The Texas Herding Association hosted a Farm Dog Certification event at Destiny Farm near Bertram.

A number of dogs from various herding breeds participated…in fact, you might have been at Westminister if it weren’t for the livestock.   The biggest, by far, was Esme the Mastiff, going through a section of the course and demonstrating that she can get her some 180 pounds up onto a hay bale.

Another of the big guys was this young Leonberger, who when full-grown could weigh 170 pounds.  His name is derived from the city of Leonberg in Germany.  This breed is usually classified as a working or guardian dog.

Marty the Briard is a big boy, as well, but more slender.  Briard males can weigh up to 100 pounds.  (I wonder how much of that is fur?)  He comes from an ancient French herding breed.

Among the other dogs represented were the Border Collie, Australian Shepherd, Doberman, German Shepherd Dog, Belgian Shepherd, Rough Collie, an English Pointer named Pete, and some “All- American” dogs. 


There was also a Pembroke Welsh Corgi, bred to herd cattle, who could have taken the prize for the shortest legs and perhaps “most enthusiastic.”  

And a Puli…we admired her curls and we know she has eyes, they are just hard to see!

All in all, it was a wonderful day.  The dogs showed their ability to remain calm and obedient in spite of the presence of unusual surfaces and objects, some very anxious sheep and a very noisy tractor as they walked through the course with their handlers and the judges.

They also had to show that they could be calm when their handlers performed an "examination" to check for burrs, foreign objects, etc.

Colt and Rue spend almost half their time on our farm, so they were not seeking a certification.  They were just glad to be able to help.  Here they are waiting for their turn to "work."

The dogs getting their certification had to show that they were able to remain calm when a “friendly dog” in the person (I’m not sure how else to say it) of Colt or Rue walked near them, and when they had to pass near a stranger (sitting under a very large, flapping umbrella due to the brisk winds).

All the dogs received their certifications and it was a great day for everyone.