Need a special gift for one of the canines in your life? Check out my "Dog in Sheep's Clothing" handknitting pattern over on my Shop Page or on Ravelry here. It is sized for dogs of all sizes - from eeny-weeny to ginormous. This is the same pattern I dressed the lambs in a couple of years ago and you can read more about the pattern on my Knitting Page here. The dog in the photo is good friend Junie B who is owned by our good friends Peggy and Clara. Isn't she sweet? She loves the sweater I made for her!
Now onto the topic of the day.... Our dogs play a huge part in our farmlife. Our two Border Collies, Phoebe and Ness, are indispensable. Never could we farm without their help moving the sheep from field to field. Before we had Paisley, our first Border Collie, The Farmer and I used to run after the sheep flapping our arms, trying to get them to move where we needed them. It was always such a comical operation. We could chase sheep for 3 hours and still fail in our attempts to move them.
|Nessie in action|
Luckily, we got our first Border Collie back in 1991. Her name was Paisley and she was a stellar dog. You can read a little about her here. We were so incredibly lucky to have an incredibly talented collie for our first foray into sheep dog land. Since Paisley, we have had 3 Collies - Devon (who sadly was hit by a car and killed), Phoebe, and Nessie. Our dogs work hard and they are such great companions also. They are a bit spoiled, enjoying the farmhouse, the fires at night, and riding in the trucks.
|Winston, the Great Pyrenees Pup - Livestock Guard Dog in training!|
Now we have added to our working dog family in the form of Great Pyrenees brothers Archie and Winston, our new Livestock Guardian Dogs. OMG - we are a 4 dog family! They are growing like crazy and seem to be fitting in with the farm. Every morning, The Farmer and I take them on a walk around the perimeter fences that one of the flocks of sheep graze during the day. It's a nice part of the day, I must say.
"The Boys" sleep outside with the sheep. They have shelter in the form of a calf hutch with straw bedding but I don't think they ever use it. They have very thick coats and from afar, look a lot like a sheep. We will be keeping them here at the farmhouse all winter long with a group of growing lambs that were born last winter and spring. "The Boys" will also be going down to the winter barn to expose them to the lambs when they are born. But we will not leave them with little lambs until they are mature and can be trusted. They have done in some of my free-ranging chickens so we must be careful. "The Boys" are very friendly to us and look forward to seeing someone whenever they hear the door open. It is all I can do to not bring them in the house but from the start, I knew that their job was to live with the sheep and guard them. After sunset, they bark and bark and bark. I think that is what keeps the sheep safe from the coyotes. Who would want to bother facing such a big barking dog (even if they are still pups).
Back to the Collies. Phoebe is 12 years old and at the end of her working life. She still helps out but she isn't as agile as she used to be. She loves a patch of sun, sleeping in the house and following me around. I hate to see her grow old but it is the cycle of life. Nessie is seven or eight (can't remember when we got her!) and lives to work. She won't be able to keep up forever so..... Big News! A few days after Christmas, we will be adding a new member to our dog family - a new Border Collie puppy! We met the litter a couple weeks ago and are anxiously awaiting our new pup. She is coming from the Gould Farm.
Fingers crossed that she wants to be a worker! It will be a lot of work having a pup in the winter. We're working on names now. She is black and white and that's all we know. It takes about 3 years for a working Border Collie to get up to speed and we have to think ahead, be prepared for Nessie's eventual slowing down. We cannot wait to meet her!
It seems that 2011 has been all about the dogs here on the farm!