Tuesday, October 18, 2011


In September, I took almost 3 weeks for a trip to the midWest. Clifford and I shared my pickup truck out and back, and we picked up 2 Shetlands to share the ride home. The major goal of the trip was to attend the 2011 Iron Welsh Challenge in St. Louis. Clifford was entered in three of the events, though not in the Challenge itself, since I was judging the agility portion of the IWC.

Before the IWC started, I gave a tracking seminar in Mountain Home, AR. The enthusiasm of the attendees was infectious, and I hope they continue on! I then spent several days with a friend in the area before driving to Sullivan, MO, for the IWC tracking tests - the first events in the 2011 IWC. We had 2 VST entries, including Clifford, 1 TDX entry, and 1 TD entry. Both the TD and TDX dogs PASSED, but Clifford failed after going well astray on the first leg then coming back to miss the first turn.

The Iron Welsh Champion was also the breed's first CT (earned her VST in May) - Ripley with owner/handler Lisa. Highlights of the weekend included the Welsh Springer winning Best in Show at Sunday's all breed show, Meghen's baby shower, and the "Boys" winning the Rally Team class. Clifford's highlight was the hunt test, held on Monday. He was one of three qualifiers, though the important part to him was BIRDS!

On my way home, Julianne and Tom Budde met me with Lil'Country Nightcap and BabyBee. They got the pickup bed "suite" on the way home. NightCap (below) is a very handsome, moorit, polled Shetland ram with incredibly soft and crimpy fleece. Babybee is a lovely, dainty moorit Shetland ewe who's produced well for Jules and now gets a chance to move the EverRanch flock toward polled rams.
By the time I returned home, a shipment of long awaited Gotland semen from Sweden itself! had arrived in the US. Early in the month, we got 12 ewes ready for AI, 11 of them received semen from 4 of the elite rams represented in the import. Now we wait.

It's a constant struggle to keep sheep numbers down. With so many really nice ewes - and rams, too - it's hard to decide who stays and who goes. This year, Shetlands Mindy (left below) and Astrid (right below) fell below my "keeper" line. Very nice sheep both, they found a home in a flock who has 3 other EverRanch % Gotland sheep. They might even get to participate in Living Nativity at their new home.

While I was gone, the garden reached its peak of the summer. Tomatoes, corn, beans, squash all were at their best while I was gone, but held on long enough for me to enjoy them, too! Actually, there are lots of green beans in the garden, hard to believe it's late October and the beans still look like this:

Tomatoes finally gave up with way too many green ones left on the vines. We grew a number of "Beefstake" type varieties this year, and they don't survive storage well. There are just too many folds and lobes, though the cherry tomatoes didn't survive well either. I harvested quite a few pumpkins and squash - Sweet Meat, Spaghetti, Delicata, Sugar Pie and generic pumpkin. The sheep fight each other for the bean plants, corn stalks and Brussels sprouts leaves. Soon, they'll get to clean up the garden except for the cold hardy plants - parsnip, Brussels sprouts, carrots, beets, chard, leeks. Yes, we'll still be eating from the garden for a while!

- Franna