Flood Plain Fire Drill

Our house is on a bench on a hillside, and it overlooks all of our pasture. The pasture itself is in the 100-year floodplain (the house is not). Though many people think that term means that the area floods once in one hundred years; the actual definition is that any given year, it has a 1% chance of flooding. That’s a little different! 🙂

The valley where our pasture lies is very rich and fertile bottom land that holds water all summer, thus it’s highly desirable for farming and grazing. This area was homesteaded in the 1880’s, and at that time, neighboring farmers collaborated to clear and drain what was, then, a marshland. So, this entire valley is cut with a network of very deep drainage ditches. These carry excess water to the nearby river, and lower the water table in the fields so they are suitable for agriculture.

Since that time, these cooperating farmers also build a network of river dikes, in an attempt to tame nature and minimize semiannual flooding in the valley. In the early years of these tries, the diking sometimes made flooding affects worse. If the dikes are not of an even height across the entire valley, when the river does exceed one dike section’s height, the concentrated force of all that water flow will do severe damage to the dike in that section and anything close by.

So, over time, these farmers and dike owners created cooperative, government-overseen organizations to manage the dikes. The chief goal is to make the dikes a consistent height, and to keep them under vigilant maintenence. We pay special taxes to the local flood control district, and they provide us with the service of managing the floodway. This also includes regular dredging of the drainage ditches in ours and our neighbors’ fields.

In recent history, our pasture was under water once in the ’70s, twice in the ’90s, and again two years ago. The last flood was an “overtopping” where the dikes all held, and the water simply exceeded their height and gently flowed over the top. That year, our pasture was under about five feet of water for several days. These are the most desirable types of flood, very calm and following the engineering designs laid out for them. If any portion of a dike ever breaches, then the force of the water will destroy a section of the dike, and general damage is much worse. This was true in the three earlier floods, with the one in the ’70s being probably the most devastating to the region.

We are especially lucky because we have a pump station nearby. So, when it does flood, as soon as the river receeds, the pumps can be turned on, and all the water sent back where it came from. This reduces the wait time for the fields to dry out, from weeks or months down to a few days. So, it’s not a bad deal– we work around a few floods, and in turn, we have some very rich agricultural land and much natural beauty that will never be filled with  housing developments.

hydrographThese days, working around the floods is actually not too inconvenient. Now we have water height and flow guages in many places along all rivers, and this data is automatically published to the Internet via various monitoring websites, most of it real-time. The graph to the left is the guage for the pump station near us. The National Weather Service monitors all of these guages and uses sophisticated computer modeling systems to predict and warn of potential flooding. Obviously, when major rains or snow melt are predicted, we know to start watching these guages!

Friday was one of those days: we’d had several days of rain already, and more predicted to be on the way. I started checking the guages a few times a day earlier in the week, and when the graph starts going up, I started checking them once an hour.

This is the first year where it really mattered, since we now have livestock down there. And, of course, I’d procrastinated a little bit on being truly ready. I had enough hog panels to make a pen “up top”, but they were still down in the pasture with the sheep, where I had fashioned a temporary pen for the ram. It was on my to-do list to bring those up to the house and get the pen ready, but we’d just been so busy with other things! And, I knew I’d have some time to react if it started raining.

I went to work Friday, but by noon, I could see the guage shooting upward at a pretty steep slope. If it kept on at that rate, it would flood around midnight that night. So, I headed home early. It took a couple of hours to dismantle the pen, bring it up, and rebuild it. I kept watching the graph, but by 2pm, it was not cresting. So, it was clear, the animals had to come up before dark. My dad and Kirk stayed up top near the pen, to help if needed. I took Maggie down the the field to round up the sheep.

The path the sheep needed to take was on the vacant neighboring property, across a culvert, and up a steep embankment. None of this is fenced, so it is essential to have a fast dog to help, or I could lose the sheep and not be able to run fast enough to stop them. I already knew the sheep would go ok, they are pretty calm and have been worked a little by the dogs. But, the llama was another story, I really didn’t know what to expect, and knew we might have to get creative!

The sheep were very reluctant to go through the gate, they are always fearful of new places. I got them through once, and left the llama behind, but I didn’t latch it properly, and they ended up spooking and pushing their way back through it. The second attempt left two sheep behind– #33 and  her lamb, along with the llama (#33 seems to really like the llama…). So, fine, I brought the five of them up, it was a little bumpy, but we did it, and with only a small amount of messing around, got them into the pen. It did help to have my dad and Kirk there, though I think now that I’ve done it once, I’d be confident enough to do it alone with the dog. When I went back for the other two, that was easy too. #33 comes to me when a dog is present, so I just put a lead rope on her, knowing  her lamb would follow. But, the llama… I got to the gate, took the sheep through, and tried to open it a crack to tempt the llama so I could grab her halter. Not happening. She would not come close enough.

But, by this time, I could see she was distressed. She did NOT want to be left behind from those sheep! She was making her funny llama sound, a sort of quiet, buzzing cry. She sounded very pathetic and she looked very concerned and torn. It is amazing how much she has bonded to them in such a short time. It became obvious that she would stay with those sheep no matter what. So, I figured, what the heck, even if I can’t catch her or get her in the pen, fine, I know she’ll stand right outside it all night. So, I just opened up the gate and had a loose llama free to roam the valley! 🙂

It felt a little risky, but I was right, she stuck to those sheep like glue. Once up top, I shoved the two sheep in the pen, had the dog hold them all to the back of the pen, and then opened the gate back up for the llama. She was very cautious, but it was easy to slowly edge her in. And that was that! They were penned in a small, 10×20 area for the night.

I figured the river wouldn’t actually flood, so I decided to wait and see. In the morning, I’d either have to buy some hay and set them up with water to wait out a real flood, or the river would have crested and they could go back down. The latter was true. As  you can see by the graph, the river crested late at night and was well on its way back down by morning. So, I had Gene help me take them back down. Same thing this time, I just concentrated on moving the sheep where I wanted them, and the llama went right along. They were happy to be back in their graze and comfort zone. And, we’re done with the flood plain fire drill until next time!

Rearranging my “Dog Van”

I have had a nagging chore waiting for a long time- rearranging my dog show van. This van exists mostly to drive the dogs around to shows and training, but I also use it a lot to haul other things-lumber, furniture, and now this last weekend, the llama. I anticipate I’ll be hauling sheep in it now too.

Probably a year before Chessie died, he stopped being willing to ride in his crate, so I’ve long owed the van a good cleanout and the removal of one dog crate. Hauling the llama was the final reason I needed, as I had to remove a lot of stuff to make room for her.

 To the left is the configuration I’d had for a very long time, to fit four dogs, a lot of show gear. Behind the lefthand crates, I had excercise pens and a dolly. I realliy liked this setup, and it was important to have it efficient in the days when I was competing every other weekend. I have been struggling with how to change it now that I’m down to three dogs, and also not showing very much. It is obviously a mess, too, I hadn’t cleaned it in a LONG time, even after hauling bales of straw and hay in it!

Tonight I took almost everything out, swept it, and came up with a way to fit three crates along the side wall. This will be nice, leaving me more room for lumber. But, I have yet to figure out what to do with all the rest of the gear. Some of it is piled back into the back of the van, and the rest is in the usual place for dumping projects-the living room!

In my van, safety for the dogs and me is aprimary concern. All of my crates are held down by cargo straps that hook to eye bolts, attached to 1x4s in the floor. If I got in a catastrophic accident, I wouldn’t want things flying around hitting me,  nor the dogs getting injured. On each crate, there is a laminated info tag on a clip, and an extra leash. So, heaven forbid I ever get in an accident and am incapacitated, a good samaritan could leash all my dogs, and take them, with instructions, to the nearest vet for care. The cards have guarantees that I’ll pay for care, the dogs’ tattoo and microchip info, and emergency contacts.

I came up with this after hearing accounts of several dog show friends who were in car accidents. I’ve heard of loose-in-the-car dogs flying through the windshield, other dogs running loose on the highway in a panic, and one person’s dogs got stuck in an out-of-town shelter in limbo for 48 hours until they were “put up for adoption” and her friend could go buy them back! Everyone I know who’s gotten in an accident with crated dogs reported that the dogs were unscathed. So, I’m pretty religious about dogs riding in crates. They prefer it too, they feel much safer when they are not sliding around in an open vehicle.

Here are the three remaining crates along the side wall, behind the driver’s seat. And  clean floor!


Hershey is Liberated

On Monday, Hershey the Ram had been locked up for 16 days. I decided to let him go; it should have been long enough with him locked up such that I can differentiate his lambs from the other ram’s by their birth dates.

As a precaution, I tied him up inside his little pen so he couldn’t cause any  trouble. Then I had Maggie help me put the ewes inside his pen too, so I could trim their hooves. She had a little trouble getting around them, she is SO sticky right now; when she makes contact with the sheep, she just locks up and stares. But she finally got them lined up nicely to the pen opening, then I had her lay down and hold her side, while I nudged them in. Nice! I never quit appreciating how helpful the dogs are.

I cleaned up all their feet, and set the whole lot free. Hershey ran to meet his ladies with glee. I let Maggie pick them up one more time, and bring them to me in a good-sized outrun. She got stuck at 9:00 like she always does, but with some encouragement, she got around them and brought them to their grain pans. The ram moved for her–I wasn’t sure if he would judging by his aggressiveness in the pen. But it turns out he works fine in the open.

So, let the rendesvous begin-time to make lambs!

Is that an Alligator or a Border Collie?

And, for fun, here is a picture of Maggie, lunging out of one of the drainage ditches, attempting to snatch a piece of grass that Kirk is holding above her head. She loves this little game they play. She rushes ahead of us when we walk in the field, and waits impatiently in the water for Kirk to appear with something to throw or dangle. The bottoms of the ditches are muddy, and sometimes when she emerges, she is so head-to-toe brown with muck that you can’t even see her white blaze. But that’s more good news because then she gets to be hosed down afterwards, another favorite game of hers!

Hoof Trimming

Monday night, I caught the lame ewe to work on her feet. I took Gene, my 5-year-old Border Collie, down to  help catch her. It took about 20 mintes to catch the ewe, both because the sheep aren’t dogged, and because Gene can act like a idiot sometimes. Her lack of confidence always manifests in squirrely behavior and the sheep figuring out they don’t need to take her seriously.

But, I do find that after she gets tired and yelled at quite a bit, she starts to settle down and work nicely. The tiredness makes her choose to work more efficiently, and me taking her self esteem down a few notches softens her demeanor so the sheep respond better to her. We got the job done; and to give her credit, I don’t think there are many farm dogs that can help single an undogged sheep in an open field! We cheated a bit by putting them into the corner, but still, it’s a trick that can’t be done by yourself without a good stock dog for sure.

So, the feet… I used to work my dogs at a place where the sheep had really bad feet, and I spent a bit of time every day I was there trimming hooves to try  to ease their discomfort and make them more workable for the dogs. A friend of mine who has an animal sciences degree showed me the basics. I find that not only do you have to create a good flat foot surface so they walk right, you have to be ruthless about hacking away diseased tissue. Making them bleed is actually good, as the blood washes out the wound and encourages fresh tissue to grow. And, you have to open up the bacteria-laden pockets to the air so they can dry out. I also find that the more you  trim, the harder the hoof works to recover, and it’ll grow very rapidly. The body wants to heal, after all.

On this girl, only her front feet were bad. Here is one hoof beforehand: you can see the side edges of the hoof curling over. This creates a pocket in which material tends to pack and retain moisture, and then works its way upwards, splitting the hoof. I thought this might be all there was, but as I trimmed, I could see that much of the hoof wall was detached, which is relatively useless. And, where there are tiny holes, if you work the points of your trimmers into those and start opening them up, usually you find lots of “stuff” in there, and a bad smell to boot.

Here is the “after” photo–I’ll take off more material in a week or so, but this was all I wanted to do in one sitting. Despite having a lot of raw, exposed tissue, she was walking better already. Before I let her go, I sprayed her feet with Shreiner’s Herbal Solution. I really like this stuff, it’s a very old-fashioned, natural wound dressing spray that I use on absolutely everything, including myself (though it’s not labeled for humans, so don’t tell them I said that! 🙂 ). I learned about it from a pig farmer, and get it at my local feed store.

Week One Without Chessie

At the agility start line (Cloud 9 Photos)

I guess it’s been just a week since Chessie died, it already seems like longer than that. Though, it’ll be a while before I adjust to making only three bowls of food, counting only three heads when coming in from the field, and loading only three dogs in the van. I have a lot of his “personal affects”-for lack of a better term-left to put away or give away. Extra dog beds, bowls, gear specifically for him, like his big tracking harness. And, now might be a good time to re-configure my van, which has semi-permanently installed dog crates and competition gear, since that’s one less big crate that needs to be in there.

I am dealing with the loss better than I expected I would, I think I was preparing for a long time. But, that dog was still a huge part of my adult life, so I sure miss him all the same.

I went back through my photo album of competition photos, and through his competition record book. The first entries were in the summer of 1997, when he was four years old and I had been out of college one year. He earned his AKC “Pre-Trial Tested” herding title with three straight passes, and his “Companion Dog” obedience title with one failure and three back-to-back passes and two placements. I remember  that weekend: his first run out, there was a minute of terrible loudspeaker feedback noise, it panicked him-so typical of Chessie. The judge, Christopher Cornell, was so kind, and re-started our heel pattern to let us regroup, but Chessie could not get it together. I had many runs ruined due to Chessie’s fears of certain noises, and umbrellas. But, he also almost always scored well, and often placed.

My last competition notes are from less than three years ago, where we finished our UKC Agility Trial Champion. He was still very athletic and comfortable jumping at age twelve. His final roster of titles earned was impressive for just a dog pound rescue, he had a good show career. His full registered name ended up being:


Left is one of my favorite photos of him and me together; we were waiting at the start line of an agility run in this picture. There was a delay, I had already tossed my leash aside, and I knelt down to make sure Chessie didn’t jump the line before the judge signaled his readiness. The photographer had a good eye for capturing moments of teamwork and closeness between dog and handler.

Herding Trial

Last weekend I competed in an AKC herding trial with both of my younger dogs, Maggie and Idgie. The trial was lovely, well-run and organized, the weather was sunny but not-to-hot, and the Whidbey Island farm where we stayed is always gorgeous. I love the drive to get there too. It’s a very nice weekend for camping in the trailer, and I rarely miss that trial because of it.


My dogs, however, didn’t perform as well as I might have hoped. Of course, it always comes down to one’s training; there is nobody to blame but the trainer! J


I ran Idgie on two different sheep courses- an open field course, and an arena course. She had nice outruns in the open field, but was way too pushy on both courses, moving the stock too quickly, which causes her to struggle to control them. And, she was “slicing”, or cornering too tightly, instead of offering nice “square flanks” where the dog’s turning does not affect the livestock’s course. Idgie ended up only passing one out of four runs, and her score was still not that great (though vastly better than last year at the same farm, so I guess she IS improving in some ways). But, I’ve hardly worked her on sheep in the last six months, so I guess I just need to brush her up on several things. She did call off nicely, every time, which I do appreciate. And, as always, she covers well—she will not lose an animal, which is something that many other handlers and other-breed owners cannot say about their dogs.


I only put Maggie on arena ducks, because she is struggling with flat outruns right now, as well as being able to listen to and process my commands while simultaneously using her brain to read and respond to the livestock. She worked hard on the ducks, and almost passed on Sunday. But, the ducks were very dogged from being worked at multiple trials during the season, and they were challenging for even the most experienced dogs.


Maggie does an excellent job of thinking on her own, she does not need me to tell her where to be or how to respond to stock movements, and she naturally gathers livestock together and moves them towards me if she is not given any instructions. Through much of her runs, I had few comments other than “good dog, wise choices.” I have worked hard with both dogs to teach them “intelligent disobedience” which is to override a command from me if they perceive that a different action should be taken. This is an important skill for a Border Collie, to be able to cover livestock in an open field, they cannot wait for us to tell them what to do or which way to go.


But, in young dogs, sometimes, they can take this freedom too liberally, it takes a long time to learn (and teach) good judgment. So, Maggie is going through a phase of using too much of her own judgment, and very frequently overrides my commands to push the stock in a direction I don’t prefer (usually she resists moving them away from me, as her gathering desire is very strong). So, we will have to work on that too. She is such a stylish worker though, I really hope I can craft her into a good trial dog.


So, I have my training work cut out for me. Hopefully getting my own sheep will really help. My fencing is just about done, so I’m staring to shop, hoping I can buy eight or so ewes in the near future.

Chessie :: April, 1993 – July, 2008

Chessie waiting to get ducks from a take-pen
Chessie waiting to get ducks from a take-pen (Lucky Critters Photography)

 So, I did it. I was tearful all morning at work. The night before, I’d concentrated hard on thinking of what he would want, of asking him. I’m no animal telepathic, but my sense was that he was ready, and that he wanted to stay home, to stay on the farm. By lunchtime, I realized I just wasn’t going to make it through the day at work, so I headed for home. I told myself that I wasn’t 100% committed to it yet, and part of my mind was already trying to un-knit the decision. But, another part of me knew it was time to walk straight into my own suffering, and not shy from it any longer.  

When I got home, Chessie was up and about, and vaguely glad to see me, but mostly because he wanted me to help him back inside. He promptly laid down on his blanket in the hall and fell sound asleep. It was good to see him resting well. He was breathing very slow, a little labored, and became fairly unresponsive. He didn’t acknowledge petting much at all. Maybe he was already getting ready, I felt like he knew and that he was relieved.  


I was hoping to convince the vet to come out and do the procedure, so I wouldn’t have to disturb him. But they didn’t want to. I was concerned that it would distress him hauling him in the van, and that we’d have a battle to find a vein at the vet’s office. I didn’t want it to end that way. We ended up finding a friend who could do it for us, she came in the evening. Chessie was still asleep, and didn’t even seem to notice the needle, so it was very peaceful, very gentle.  

Kirk kindly dug a hole in the pasture using the tractor and got everything ready. We wrapped him in some worn cotton blankets and put him in the ground, in the rain, just before dark.  



This kind of burial is consistent with beliefs I’ve been developing over many years, based on a lot of reading and thinking. I object to complicated burial procedures, painted coffins, chemicals and the like-it’s not good for the environment, not natural. Cremation is also polluting, and I believe that it has the affect of delaying the grieving process. You don’t see the body; it comes back to you days or weeks later in an urn, such that your mind does not connect well with the reality of the loss. The one time I had a rescue foster dog euthanized and taken away, I had strange, irrational thoughts for weeks, momentary ideas that I’d un-do it, go get her, change my mind. I think sending the body away prolongs the denial part of the grieving process.  

So, for me, this burial at home, in simple, natural cotton blankets, is right with nature, a last act of ritual and caring, and very final in the mind. And, so it is done, and I think it was right. My final realization was only this: that he had no good days, not even any good hours, left ahead. So, though the time and place were arbitrary, it seemed there was no point in delaying any longer. Now, we can all move on, we can all rest well once again. 

So long Chessie, it was a good fifteen years, and I’m glad you got to enjoy some life on the farm before you left. I will miss you.

A Hard Day

I wrote this yesterday morning, partly as a way to think through my situation. But, I didn’t have the heart to post it then, it would have made it more “real” than I wanted at that moment.


Today I feel I am facing an excruciating decision. Chessie is doing worse and worse, and last night was miserable for us both. His decline is very slow, such that the increments are not noticeable. But, when I evaluate his overall quality of life now, and compare it to even just a few months ago: I see that there is virtually no quality left. Save eating, perhaps. He struggles to get up and lie down. Often he needs my help with both. The rest of the day, he shuffles around the yard (where he is left most of the day) in a daze.


He seems very senile, or otherwise mentally withdrawn. He barely acknowledges my presence, and no longer seems to take pleasure in being petted. He does not make eye contact, though I can tell he still sees. Sadly, I admit, much of my interaction with him is filled with frustration and impatience, over which I feel extremely guilty. I owe this dog compassionate care now, as he has been faithful to me all these years, and ever-tolerant of my mistakes and flaws. But, what I feel he deserves does not always show in my actions, when I’m struggling to help him get up and he is trying to bite me, or when he has just made a mess on the floor.


I searched the web a little bit for guidance on when it’s time to euthanize. This decision is so terribly weighty and fraught with ethical and spiritual complications! It is hard to think with a clear mind in times like this! Advice from others concludes: evaluate the animal’s quality of life, evaluate what’s stopping you from ending it, and use your best judgment on what seems “right.” And they always say “you’ll know when it’s time.” But I feel I  don’t know!


I don’t think I am selfishly hanging onto him for fear of losing him-in fact; honestly, I am ready for him to pass on. That is one natural aspect of age-related deterioration, is that the person, or animal that you once knew disappears. It gradually prepares you for the complete loss of having them in your life, because you’ve lost most of them before the actual death event occurs. This morning when I awoke from what little sleep we both got, I was praying to find him gone, it seemed like the time was so right after such a hard night. But, no, he awoke when I touched him.  


So, what’s stopping me from euthanasia? I think I am avoiding having to take the responsibility for it—I am wishing to be spared that burden by having him die a natural death. And yet, what remains is guilt that his passing may endure more suffering than is necessary, because I refuse to make this decision. So, I can’t win, no matter which path I choose, the emotional consequences for me seem the same. 


I have tried to evaluate what end-of-life suffering means from a spiritual or religious point of view. Of course, that is one of life’s greatest philosophical questions anyway. And most religions don’t give a lot of advice that pertains to animals, since ancient texts mostly address animals from the standpoint of eating them! The best we can do is presume that there is meaning in suffering, that it is part of the soul’s growth, or perhaps penance for past wrongs. It seems we must trust that suffering is necessary, and we must embrace it and accept it as part of our term here on earth. Dogs are generally very good at that. Possibly end-of-life suffering is also instrumental in readying someone for their own death, in helping them come to the conclusion that they want to pass on to leave their suffering behind.


So, I think that is why euthanasia is so very complicated—that as much as I dislike seeing another suffer, and would like to end that suffering—is it my right, or my duty, to do so? Am I interrupting some natural, meant-to-be process by declaring “I will not allow this suffering”? Am I short-circuiting his own spiritual preparation for leaving his earth by removing the choice from him, his body, or the divine?


But, it breaks my heart that he cried most of the night, I don’t know why, or what was bothering him. And that he’s having more and more nights like this. He just seemed like he could not get comfortable. And I left him in the dog yard this morning, crumpled against the fence where he semi-collapsed- still whining. I can’t guess what his day is like while I’m gone, if he rests, or if he suffers all day, if he finds shade and water, or if he just sits where he lands out of apathy. I don’t know what’s happening in his mind, if he knows where he is, if he knows what he wants, or what lies ahead, outside of the moment he’s in. I know he’ll be complaining when he sees me pull in at the end of the day, but no matter what I do to attempt to address his complaints, he rarely seems to settle and be satisfied.


So, it seems that the decision is before me, that I must take that next step and own this choice. Only I can do it. There is nothing left of the dog that once loved to run, chase, play, jump, learn and be with me. He is only a shadow now, which wanders through each day like a ghost, biding his time for that which neither he nor I can know. It seems the only thing to do is to be the escort that delivers him to that place as gracefully as possible now, hoping and praying it was the right thing for his gentle soul.


I had a vet/acupuncture appointment scheduled this evening anyway. Maybe it’s time. Maybe.

Chores and more chores

This weekend I did get to dabble a little on the fencing; I have all but one gate hung, and all of those now latch. There is just the tiniest bit of work left to make that field livestock-ready: one 12′ section of fence to stretch, one more gate, and fixing some “airspace” under one gate that’s on a slope. But, I didn’t get to that.

I had to finish the tractor’s 100 hour maintenance list, which takes some time-oil change, grease the fittings, check all the fluids, clean the air filter, etc. And, then I worked on field mowing, which is about a 4+ hour job for each of the two mowed fields. I got more than half of the main field done.

Mowing is pretty relaxing, it’s enjoyable to see a local hawk taking advantage of flushed mice. And the swallows go bananas over the insects that mowing excites– I had several dozen birds swerving and swooping all around me. They are so acrobatic, it’s amazing they don’t hit the tractor, or each other, when they are in such a feeding frenzy. I love the smell of mowing too, its reminiscent of my days driving pea harvesters as a summer job in college- a mix of diesel, hot machines, and cut greenery. The noise and the slow pace are mesmerizing, it’s a good time to contemplate many things.

Sunday my mom and I also worked on dog 4-H fair entries-it’s almost county fair time for us. Years ago, I wrote an Access database to track all of the 200+ dog show entries for our 11-day fair, which helps with scheduling, score tabulation, prize calculation, and state fair qualification tracking. But, it requires about eight hours of data entry before the fair to transfer paper entries into electronic records-worth it for the time it saves in the office during the fair, when things are hectic.

Of course, I’m the only volunteer resource who knows how to really use the database, so I’ve signed up for a lifetime commitment at database maintenence, I think! But, I enjoy helping, and I enjoy the fair. Next year, I strive to make Excel spreadsheets where each 4-H leader can type in their own data, that would really save me time, as I could just import it.

Kirk has asked me about ten times about the Nubian goats at the fair, whether there will be some for sale at the Open Show. He has his heart set on a black Nubian doe. Our friend Lori also loves animals and goats, and aspires to own one, but doesn’t yet have the place for one. So, she offered to “fund” one that we’d house, and she could visit. We could use a blackberry eater that could be tethered on the slopes during the day to help with clearing. So, that may be a next project: making a night pen for a goat to stay safe so that we can add to the growing menagerie.

Kirk has made tons of progress on barn wood cleanup, I’ll have to snap a picture soon. This week, I have to finish mowing, and then prepare for one last herding trial trip for this year. Friday I’m headed to a beatiful farm on Whidbey Island, and will camp there in the trailer for the weekend during the trial.