Welcome To Smokin J Border Collies

My photo
Las Vegas, Nevada, United States
I've trained working border collies for over 14 years and trialed in USBCHA, WCDA and AHBA events. My partner, Mike Franklin and I work dogs in Calico Basin, Nevada. This blog is solely for the purpose of sharing my love of working border collies. I do not have stud service or puppies available. Please contact me at smokinjbc@msn.com and I will be happy to share my recommended working breeders. If you are interested in teaching your dog to be a sheepdog in the Southern Nevada area, please feel free to contact me.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Blustery Day for Sheep

We had another blustery day in Las Vegas. In local news, despite wind warnings, some window washers decided to chance it. This resulted in a broken rig, several smashed windows and I imagine some very relieved families when fire fighters finally got them down. Every time the wind blows here, there is someone who doesn't take it into consideration.

Despite the winds, I managed to make it out to work dogs this morning. Still, only two ewes have lambed- not sure what the hold up is but with the horrid weather, I'm sure these ladies are just waiting for the least opportune moment.

They look and move a little like hungover elephants right now.

This one is especially enormous. I'm a little worried that she has a dozen in there...

Here are last week's newest additions, Moo was next up to lamb and did so with little fanfare.
Here is my favorite lamb, so far- a little ewe lamb dipped in white. For now, just calling her "Fancy Pants". Yes, I get a little goofy about lamb names.

Her brother is almost identical to Moo's ewe lamb last year, Moolita. He has a enormous head though- so we'll call him Big Head Todd.

He's too busy to show off his stately brow. Hopefully he doesn't have some dread lamb disease that I'm making light of. Seems pretty sparky though.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

A Rough Start

I was lucky enough to get off an hour early from work this St. Patrick's Day and once I drove the 40 minute commute home, I was even happier that I had lamb stew ready in the crockpot, Captain Morgan ready to be poured for cocktail hour, and 8 dogs that were thrilled to see me.

Then.... just as I was sitting on the couch....the phone rang. It was my sheep land lady.

"Got some blood and string like discharge on one of the ewes." Uhhhhhh...what now? Ewe was eating, acting normal and not in labor. In 7 years of lambing seasons, my easy keepin' sheep were about to throw me a curve ball.

I've never lost a lamb, not in all that time. Nor a ewe either. Our lambing "problems" could be summed up in one previous ewe that required an injection to stimulate enough milk for her twins. She was promptly sent down the road. I cannot live with the sheep, they must be able to raise lambs with little human interference.

But now I was faced with a decision. There were three scenarios, as I understood it.

1. It could be normal discharge and I should receive a call soon that there were lambs on the ground. Obviously, the best case scenario.

2. A lamb could be stuck and need to be pulled out. Oh dear.

3. One or all the lambs could be dead. That could be very, very bad.

Hint: If you are getting a little frightened for the sheep now, read the label of this post..it all ends mostly o.k.

Here is a sneak preview if you don't believe me...

Feel a little better? Good.... my blog is not meant to raise blood pressure or cause Kleenex stock to go up. If things really were that bad, I'd keep it to myself. Promise.

So, after much debate, some online hunting of lambing problem literature and good help from Diane (who asked alot of good questions- most of which I had to guess at, as my ewe in trouble was 45 minutes away), I called my sheep landlady, Jonna, and we discussed the option of interfering vs. the "wait and see" approach. Everything I read, so far, had DIRE warnings about interfering unless ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY. Every instruction on pulling lambs first underlined that you needed to be very, very sure that you really needed to do it.

As someone who works for a vet, I also know that the "wait and see" approach can be a really stupid way to go. However- the fact of the matter was that ewe was not in distress and if a lamb was dead, it would still be dead in the early morning daylight. If things were just slightly off and labor was just around the bend, I'd be greeted by a ewe and a lamb or two when I got there first thing. Jonna promised to listen for sounds of distress and call me if there were any changes.

Still worried and feeling a little helpless, I switched shifts with one of my employees so I could have an extra two hours to deal with any crisis that might occur.

I woke up at 4 a.m and headed out to Calico Basin, coffee, oxytocin and antibiotics in hand. It was early, and still dark, so I could not expect Jonna to let me know if there were lambs on the ground. I just had to see for myself.

About half way there, the phone rings again. They observed "something sticking out" of the ewe, no lambs. Damn.

Stopped at the store nearby, bought a few supplies I did not have. Imagine the looks one gets when she buys K-Y jelly, soap and dish towels at 5 in the morning.

Drove up to the gate, and I can see right away that the ewe has seperated herself from the rest and is standing alone. There is a dark spot on the ground next to her, but it does not move. Is it a shadow? Keep in mind that it's still, very very dark out. I pulled in and glanced over to her again. The shadow flicked an ear...

An ear! A lamb, thank God! A tiny red ram lamb.

Jonna saw me pull in and headed down the driveway, ready to help me with our little emergency. Even she had not seen the lamb yet. Once I pointed out the little guy though, we both sighed our relief. We decided to give momma ewe some privacy and take a little closer look when the sun came out. Headed to the house for coffee.

When we finally had some light, I went down again to check. Was an awfully tiny lamb considering how large the ewe had been. Then I made a grim discovery.

My first lost lamb, a still born. And probably a blessing- an underdeveloped lamb that never had a chance.

I told you it was only "mostly" ok. Since by now, over 30 minutes had gone by, I did not expect anything more to happen. I gave momma ewe a antibiotic injection, she was mothered up to her lamb nicely and then I decided to go up to the house and finish my coffee.

Good thing I hung around because one lamb became two...

A nice little dark brown lamb was born, another ram lamb.
So although we lost one lamb and had to get up way too early for civilized people, it was worth it. Hopefully I will go through another 7 years with no problems and not have to learn anything about pulling lambs. Not that I would shirk from the task, it's just nice to know that your ewes have it covered!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Simply Awesome

Well...no lambs to report, Jet is up to her usual kinda good badness, and the only news is it's dang hot already! So, in case you haven't caught it on Sheepdog-L or You-tube...here is a great video of very creative shepherds.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Back from the Sheep Races... I mean Dog Trial.

We just straggled in last night, way too late, from the March Madness trial in Tonopah, Az. This was a fun, casual trial and the weather could not have been better. A friendly club they have down there, with lots of novice people who are enthusiastic about dogs. We ran on a farm flock of saintly sheep- they were well used to dogs and it was a challenge to keep them from drawing to the exhaust and setout.

Unfortunately, someone (not me!) forgot to charge the camera, so there are no pictures to share. But here is the Jet-Date and other reports.

Jet-date: Did o.k, a little wild on day one but found her sheep and once I got control of her bad-ness, she did ok. Day 2: No comment.

Brice: Very proud of Mike and Brice. After a fast first Pro-Novice run where there was not nearly enough steady but they did get an ok score, they came together nice yesterday for their second field run and got the best score they’ve had so far and a placing (I think 4th or 5th). Would have been a better placing had someone been watching their pushy dog, who brought the sheep back out of the pen before the gate could be shut. He did well in the arena too and I’m especially jealous because someone (same person who did not charge the batteries) has not been practicing nearly enough to have put down that nice of a run.

Jane: Found her sheep! 3 times! WHO HOO. Only lost them twice…hmmm. We’ve had a little trouble adjusting to Open level, Jane and I but I think we are making progress. The outrun was small but the field was tricky enough that several dogs had problems making the outrun. Jane’s outrun was beautiful and got better each day but two of her runs, she got confused at the crossdrive panels and I had to go help her. But the middle run, she did get a complete course, a little trouble with driving but nailed the outrun/lift, shed and pen and we got 5th place.

We drove back through Wickenburg, Az and the beautiful Joshua Tree forest. Especially pretty when it’s not 100 plus degrees!

ETA: Whoops- Poor Nellie! Forgot all about her stellar arena run. I have not run Nellie for over 2 years, but she did great. It was a time trial (not points I guess, the scoring was a bit unusual) and we were not as fast as other dogs but we got each obstacle with no time faults. It was a blast running Nells again, she always did the best in arena trials- fast and accurate girl!