Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Morning Walk with the Five Dog Family

The Farmer has been so busy with lambing still (yesterday 4 more), it is my daily job to take the five dog family for a walk and to check the pastures for sheep which might be stuck in a fence (like this morning) or whatever else sixty almost year old lambs can get themselves into. Our daily job is to walk the fences... to see if anything has snuck in that shouldn't be there. To make sure everyone is alive and happy.

It is difficult to get a photo of all of the canines all looking good together. I won't even try. If you want that kind of thing, go check out Jon Katz's blog. He does a gorgeous job with that. Here are the five dogs.... they are all so busy, looking, sniffing, chasing, doing what they need to do.


Almost every morning, we walk the fences... looking out into the forest. I always wonder what is looking at me at that particular time. Mysterious the forest is.



Hard to believe we have 3 puppies all at the same time. Archie and Winston arrived in October. They are Great Pyreness Livestock Guard Dogs (LGD).  You probably wonder how I can tell them apart. I can - from their personalities and from some very specific markings. Archie has stripes on his face and Winston is lighter in color. Archie is the more dominant, rough and tough. He likes to run with the Border Collies. Winston on the other hand loves me. Every morning, he snuggles up to get loves and follows me closely as we walk through the field.


Both Archie and Winston are incredibly sweet and gentle dogs. It seem so funny that we have them as Guard Dogs living with the sheep.... to me, they are like giant teddy bears.  They have a large calf shed which they can use but mostly they are outside in the weather. Their coats are very thick and sometimes coated with icy bits. They don't interact a lot with the sheep but they seem to know their place and their duty. Every evening at dusk, they start barking.... in a deep, gruff, scary bark. This goes on until about midnight. I guess it keeps the predators away. I know if I didn't know these two, I would be scared too. Here they are at a very sweet moment on our walk, giving each other little kisses.


And then there is Kate - our three month old Border Collie. Kate is fast as the wind, can turn on a dime, is in constant motion, and is BC through and through. I have high hopes for her herding talents and can see it developing every day, all day long. She loves to watch the chickens, chase the cats but hasn't quite figured out the sheep yet. 


The ewe is wondering what that streak running across the field is....
As I watch the dogs while walking or being with the sheep, I constantly marvel at the difference in the two dog breeds. Both are time honored dog breeds bred for working with sheep - just different kinds of work. The Great Pyrenees plod along slowly and do a lot of watching and barking. They are slow and steady. The Border Collies on the other twist and jump and turn and never stop until it is time to go inside. We yell out "that'll do" and they know it is time to finish with the sheep and go inside. Kate hasn't quite learned the term yet but she follows Phoebe and Ness, seeming to know that she is a Border Colie.


Kate, Archie, and Ness

When Kate first arrived, I wondered what Archie and Winston would think of her. I shouldn't have worried. Every morning, they are waiting for her to come visit. They run and play but they can't keep up. She bosses them around. It is something to watch - a small little 20 pound puppy telling these two giant puppies what to do.
Archie and Winston playing with little Kate

I love this photo of Winston on the knoll. Ness is behind him and barely visible. She is following the ewes and Winston is watching out for something. He looks so serious and she looks like she has a giant smile on her face.

Winston watching and Nessie waiting to move the sheep

We couldn't have this farm without our dogs. They live to work. It is quite a priviledge to watch a dog do what it was bred to do over the centuries. Sometimes, I feel like I am living in another time - when humans and their dogs supported each other with their own special skills. 

And here is head dog - Phoebe, sweet Phoebe. Thirteen years old and a total love. A lot slower than she used to be but we love her just as much.... Nothing like the familiarity an old dog brings to your life. What memories we have with her.



Do you know the term "Five Dog Night?" There's a great children's book with a title of the same name by Eileen Cristelow about an old Vermonter and how he kept warm. Sweet.

18 comments:

mary kate said...

?Kristin,
Every time that you write about the dogs and combine your narrative and photos, I think," She should write a children's book that starts with the pups and the lambing and ends with simple knitting patterns from the wool!"
Kids would love a peek into farm life. I share your blog with my eleven year old when there are dogs or lambs and we live in Chicago!
Give it a thought...
mary kate

Mimi Foxmorton said...

That is a *whole* lotta Sunday morning snuggling to be had there! ;)

Rudee said...

Archie and Winston are adorable.

Adaliza said...

Oh - I love hearing about your boys & girls. BC's are a law unto themselves, so reactive & quick. Our two, although not working dogs, are full of instinct. Misty spends most of the day stalking Flora the duck! I think she'd have been a good worker. Hates people though - other than the family! Those boys are magnificent - Winston looks just like a polar bear! Kate is just a huge character - I'm sure she'll turn out to be one of your most memorable ones. I'm off to visit my Dad who's having an op - feeling nervous for him. Enjoy the rest of your week down on the farm.

kathy b said...

amazing images of the dogs. they are gentle giants and gorgeous to view...this is funny, my word verification is NONCOWS. yup they are non cows

Anne Paulson said...

Thank you for sharing about your dogs! I love your blog and especially enjoy hearing about the doggies! We have a 5 month old Cairn Terrier puppy and are constantly amazed at how smart he is... and how loving.

WoolenSails said...

I just love your dogs, and a Great Pyrenees is another dog I have always loved, but too big to confine in a small area.

Debbie

Maggie said...

Kristin,
I love visiting your blog every other day or so. It provides such a wonderful window to your world. I have some health issues and have a lot of down time so your blog is a daily source of joy for me. I am a knitter, sewer and generally crafty kind of person and love your style. I have a couple of your books, love your ideas and looking at your inspiration. Thanks for sharing.
Maggie

Kathy said...

Great post. Love the photos and narrative. I own TWO copies of 'Five Dog Night'- one for here at home for the grandkids, and one at school for my class of 3rd and 4th graders. :) It's a favorite year after year.

night owl said...

Neat post today. I remember going to Wool Day at Canterbury (www.shakers.org) and watching the Border Collies do their thing with the master tweeting his whistle. The highlight was the pups learning how to herd practicing on ducks!!

Nancy K. said...

Beautiful dogs ~ beautiful photos!
I too have five dogs but mine are all in the HOUSE! I run a canine rescue so my own two dogs have to adjust to new dogs coming into the 'family' on a regular basis. It's amazing how willing they are to share our home and our love with less fortunate canines...

MicheleinMaine said...

Just love the photos and the story. Winston and Archie look like polar bears! And Kate is like the wind, as you say. Phoebe - oh, what a lovely face!

I love our cats but it's just not the same as dog love.

Norma from Misty Haven Alpacas said...

Oh, I'm a dog person. I've never had working dogs but I just love and admire them. Beautiful pictures that capture your dogs doing what they do best.

Dover Bill said...

Kelso is the pup missed most. A thoroughbred in miniature. Dognap him I would; sticking in my pocket, back to NJ I would bring. Mysterious the Garden State is!

sheepyhollow said...

Beautiful 4-legged family! I can't believe how BIG everyone is getting! We lost our Great Pyreneese, Bo, this past summer. He was 12. Does me good to see your pups!

barb said...

Love todays blog. I love to read about your farm and those who protect it. The puppies are getting so big. I have 2 Great Danes and 2 Yorkies. I think my Yorkies would work best with Archie and Winston. My Sipsie Rose warns us about EVERYTHING.
Enjoyed watching you on an old episode of Knit and Crochet Now. Still waiting for them to start running the new episodes.

barb in MI

Kristina said...

Absolutely loved this post! I have two border collies, too, and they are amazing to watch. So full of fun and intelligence! I really love all your pictures and the narrative of how you go about checking the fences. I agree with the comment about a children's book about dogs on a farm with some patterns...pretty please?! I love your blog!!!!!

Kristina

ellen kirkendall said...

Beautiful dogs, and what a pleasure for you to have such good workers. My own useless dog is 13 this year (probably - she's a rescue and her age is a guess) and I can see the time will come when we are no longer together. It's hard to think about when you have lived with a dog so long and you are used to each other's ways.