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Saturday, July 02 2016


We have Wifi again! I'm baaack! And I have lots of news!

Check this out.

Yes, it is as soft and scrumptious as it looks, as soft as the softest cashmere. Yes, I made it, or well, I'm in the process of making it. Guess what it is.

Or who.

Yep. It's Briar. (Okay, the brown stripes are alpaca.) Who knew she would make such soft fiber? Since I discovered spinning wool into yarn, nothing is safe. I look at soft puffy clouds in the sky and think of spinning, so it wasn't much of a stretch to spin up the pile of dog hair I stripped out of Briar. Without all that undercoat, she is much more comfortable and I have discovered yet one more use for this nifty dog. Why scour the internet in search of cashmere goats when I have a Livestock Guardian Dog that gives me the softest of cashmere without any additional cost?

And no, it doesn't smell like a dog. It is such an amazingly pettable scarf that you just want to scrunch it up against your cheek. It's not just plain dog hair, it's "cheingora.

And it's cheap and easy to obtain, unless of course your Livestock Guardian Dog meets a skunk. I'm hoping that doesn't happen again until I get enough undercoat to finish my scarf.

Now on to other business. . .

The Boyz are growing up! This week new milestones were reached. We have been giving them increasingly more and more responsibility. It's been a while since they've gone on their Frat Boy Walkabout Tours. Those aren't nearly as much fun anyway when it's blistering hot outside. They could still do it though, and now that I've bragged on them, for sure someone will slip under a fence to chase hogs under a setting sun.

Instead of allowing them both loose at the same time, I just have one out with Briar, and the other is either locked in the barn aisle or inside the house with me, lounging on air conditioned concrete floors. Who wants to slip under the fence and run off in this heat when you can hang around with the sheep, waiting for shift change when you get an hour or two in the AC? Yes, Friends and Neighbors, I know it flies in the face of all the Leave-Them-Alone-With-The-Flock-Don't-Make-Pets-Out-Of-Them advice. So sue me. It works. I don't have to prove anything to anyone anymore. I'm too old for that shit. I just have to have my dogs stay home with the flock, and I don't care how it gets done. We did this with Briar and she turned out just fine. Now the Boyz are following in her footsteps.

And guess what? They stay at home now. Yes, they are pets, but then so are my sheep and goats. Pets with jobs. Remember. Helloooo... We live in the freaking barn! As long as the dogs stay in the barnyard or the pastures surrounding the barn, they can do their jobs. They don't have to stay alone in the back forty with a flock of sheep. That's too much to expect any dog, especially puppies. The sheep stay within earshot so it's reasonable to expect the dogs to stay within earshot. What I don't want is them slipping under the fence and disappearing for an hour or two while they play in the forest. It's happened in the past and will probably happen again before they are adults.

Jury is better about staying with the flock during his shift.

Judge, like Briar, often sleeps under a horse trailer where he can keep an eye on things.

Jury is much more personal with the flock. He checks butts every morning, walking through the flock, licking rear ends and taking inventory. Judge? Not so much. He spends more time scanning for threats. Judge doesn't kiss babies and pat their butts. Judge is a warrior waiting for enemy invasion. Jury is your quintessential maternal-type Livestock Guardian Dog. He prefers to be part of the flock while his brother prefers to be a guard dog who is simply safe around the flock. Together they complement each other and will make a great team.

It has taken 13 months to get them to this point. That's 13 months of work on the part of a conscientious breeder who properly socialized them with goats and people, and then on our part as we worked through all the jail breaks and chasing bouncing lambs. It doesn't happen overnight. And you're never really completely done. Livestock Guardian Dogs don't train themselves.

Even now I know there will be setbacks. Just because I bragged about them today, I'll go out tomorrow and find a dog has left the sheep to chase hogs. That's Murphy's Law.  But each day they get better and better. Yesterday I left Judge loose with Briar while we left the house for the day. Truth be told, I was worried all day that he'd go walkabout. When we returned home, he ambled out from underneath the cattle trailer and trotted down the long driveway to greet us. It was the prettiest thing I'd seen all day.

That was a milestone. It was one step closer toward our goal of leaving them out with the flock all the time, secure in the knowledge that everyone will be safe and present when we return home.  It's a long road, but well worth the journey.

Posted by: forensicfarmgirl AT 03:54 pm   |  Permalink   |  5 Comments  |  Email
Comments:
Glad you've got your wifi back! I love reading your posts and feeling like I'm watching your farm from afar!
Posted by cindy tennant on 07/02/2016 - 04:29 PM
At the ozark folk center, in Arkansas a woman showed me a scarf made out of Newfie undercoat. It was amazingly soft. Some day I would like to take one of their classes
Posted by Rreeves on 07/02/2016 - 07:13 PM
For a contrasting color, don't forget that Border collies are also 100% chiengora. Our Annie is blowing coat right now. I could send you some (alright, a lot) if you need it. She is about Lily's size.
Posted by Peg H. in Wisconsin on 07/04/2016 - 02:44 AM
I have heard about passing dogs wanting to get a little too friendly with people wearing dog-fur clothing. Even when washed etc., the primordial scents remain, apparently. You have been warned!
Posted by Tina Garfield on 07/04/2016 - 12:27 PM
I've worn quite a bit of dog hair. Some of my most cherished things are items Sue in Wyoming knit for me from the hair of my long-dead Soul Dog. That's what inspired me to start spinning. :)
Posted by forensicfarmgirl on 07/05/2016 - 01:57 PM

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