- Written by Tony Bierman
- Category: Editor's Blog
- Hits: 737
Where does raw goat's milk come from? Goats, of course. In the case of my seven dogs, their goat's milk comes from the happy and well cared for goats at Bonnie Blue Farm. Yesterday, Bekkey and I were fortunate enough to get a wonderful tour of our local goat dairy from affable proprietor Gayle Tanner. Gayle was there to greet us when we arrived, and promptly took us on a tour of her farm.
Being the dog nut that I am, the first thing I noticed were two calm, confident Great Pyrenees keeping watch over things. It was a pleasure to meet both the girls!
Next, we got to meet the stars of the show. I was amazed at how clean, well-kept and organized the goats were. It was immediately clear to me that Gayle kept a tight ship. All the goats looked so happy!
The absolute coolest part of the tour was when we discovered this secret, previously unknown entrance to King Thorin's Hall.
Just kidding! Sorry for the nerdy Tolkien reference. Seriously though, this is the entrance to an amazing cheese cave.
Inside the cheese cave are shelves and shelves of cheese wheels aging to perfection!
Gayle told us that some of these cheese wheels have 10 gallons of milk in them!
Amazing. We had a wonderful time. It was so educational, and Gayle was such a gracious host.
If you're lucky enough to have a local goat dairy, consider feeding raw goat's milk to your dogs. I give my dogs about four ounces per day, poured over kibble and topped with a farm fresh raw egg. Here's some more information about feeding your dog raw goat's milk.
- Written by Tony Bierman
- Category: Editor's Blog
- Hits: 542
I recently purchased a copy of Working Dogs of the World from a London bookshop.
This book was written by C.L.B. Hubbard and published by Sidgwick and Jackson Limited of London in 1947.
Table of Contents page 1
Table of Contents page 2
The beginning paragraphs of the section titled Collies
The Scottish Collie is probably the best-known Sheep-dog in the world, and certainly the most popular in the English-speaking countries. The race is extremely old, even among the breeds of Scotland, all of whose dogs are or ancient lineage. The modern Show-type Collie is, of course, a comparatively recent creation, but the old Working Collie is still very much like the type called 'Shepherd's Dog" by Dr. Caius in 1570, and by Buffon and other naturalists centuries ago. Indeed, the Working Collie shows much its make-up of the primeval dog.
"Delwood Barrie", a well-known Rough-coated Collie
"Lavender Lass of Bonniecot", a good specimen of the rare Smooth-coated Colllie
An old-fashioned Working-type Bearded Collie
- Written by Kay Delk Keziah
- Category: Editor's Blog
- Hits: 502
Editor's note: This article has been re-printed on farmshepherds.com with permission from the original author. Kay Delk Keziah is well-known in the English Shepherd community for putting on some of the best gatherings around. Kay hosts the informative website http://www.eshepherd.org and has a mailing list you can subscribe to at http://www.eshepherd.org/newsletter-signup. Here are Kay's tips for planning a successful gathering.
In 2005 I first heard about English Shepherd Gatherings and wondered what they were about. I was told that basically ES Gatherings were times to get together with other English Shepherd owners and admirers to visit, have fun, look at the dogs, have a meal, and look forward to the next year when you do it again. I thought, “Oh, like a family reunion, but with dogs!” How fun! In October, 2006, we hosted our first North Carolina English Shepherd Gathering at Maple Grove Farm.
What I have learned is – KEEP IT SIMPLE!!!
There are only three steps: Plan, Prepare and Do It!!!
Pick a date. Pick a date that suits you and your helpers. It is nice to have two or more people working on the gathering. One person can do it alone, it is just a bit harder. Make sure the date does not conflict with some event in your community so there are enough hotel rooms to be had. Call around to the local hotels and see which ones allow pets. Make a list of names, addresses, and phone numbers you can post to your website and on the discussion lists, as well as email and snail mail as needed. Pick a time of the year that has nice weather for your area usually.
Pick a place. Preferably, pick a place that is free to use. It should have plenty of space for the dogs to run and play in a safe area. Ideally you also want to have a covered, dry place, like a big carport, barn, shed, or shop. An ample size for the play area would be 100 feet by 200 feet for 35 people and their dogs. The large, covered area is where you can set up the food, and if it rains you are covered. You also want to be sure there is ample parking that it is handicap accessible. You will need a restroom facility. Port-a-potties are available for rent if nothing on site is adequate.
The place can be your back yard or a field on your farm. Shade is always nice so think about that especially in the summer time. A pond or a creek or a herding spot are fun ideas. But don’t worry if you do not have them. They are fun but not necessary for a good time!
Seating and Tables for Food, Auction Items, Visiting. Use what you have first. A table can be made from old doors and saw bucks. Pull out the old card tables, and use your imagination. Borrow tables from friends or the church fellowship hall. Whatever chairs and benches you have, set them up where you want folk to congregate. Have the attendees bring their lawn chairs too. You could even pull out some hay bales for seating. For the tables, I use table cloths that I have had for years, and keep old throws for chairs and seats. I wash them and put them away each year after the gathering, so they are ready to pull out and use.
Dog Water. Plan for water stations so the dogs have plenty of water to drink. Have someone be in charge of keeping the buckets filled.
Trash Cans. You will need at least four large ones, with one designated for a poop receptacle in a central place. A poop scooper is handy to have at this spot too.
Decorating. Decorations aren’t necessary, so keep it simple if you decide to use them. But do pick a spot and have a nice backdrop set up for photos. Use an out building, or a seat with a colorful throw and some pots of flowers for people/dog portraits. People will love this! I have seen old tractors, wagons, and out buildings used, and we have an out house with a bench beside it. Use what you have. Folks will love it!
Food and Drink. Keep it simple for you! We barbecue chicken, but hamburgers and hot dogs are easy too. Have people bring side dishes and whatever they like to drink. You will have plenty to eat and drink this way. For folks traveling long distance, I suggest bread or chips or something easy to pick up at the grocery. You could also do a complete Pot Luck, and manage it with a sign up list of desired items so you don’t get 50 cakes for the meal.
I pick up paper products on sale through out the year and store them in a Gathering box. This saves me money and I am sure to have cups, napkins, plates, cutlery, and toilet paper on hand. Have ice available. A friend or relative who has a shaved ice machine might be a source, or a church fellowship hall may have ice facilities. Those are free, but you can always buy cubed ice too.
Set Up. Set up tables and chairs the day before and wipe them well to make sure they are clean. Have one table set up as a greeting table with name tags and a sign-in sheet for names, addresses, phone numbers, and emails. The morning of the gathering, put table cloths on the tables and throws on the chairs…..and you are ready!
Miscellaneous Items. Have a first aid kit for people and pets. It doesn’t need to be a complete ‘trauma kit’, but should include the basics for first aid care – bandaging materials, antibiotic ointment, bee sting supplies, etc. Be sure people know where it is located. Have a list of local vets and phone numbers, just in case. Have a map and directions ready should someone need to go to the hospital.
Advertising your Gathering. Post announcements to the group lists to which you belong. Advertise it with the Shepherd’s Post e news letter and on the English Shepherd Source web site. Create a Face Book Page for the event and announce it on your Face Book Time line as well as groups you are in. If there are people you know would be interested, but who wouldn’t get those announcements, you might consider sending them personal invitations.
Activities. Not all are listed here but these are the ones that have worked well. Again, keep this simple. You could do two activities, one in the morning and one in the afternoon, but my experience is that just one is sufficient. And, really, you do not have to plan an activity. People are so happy to get together and visit that activities can be too much. Here are some things that have been done in the past:
- Herding and Herding tests
- Canine Good Citizen tests
- Guest speaker (a veterinarian, English Shepherd history, rare breed conservation)
- Search and Rescue Demo
- First aid for dogs
- Scent Dog work
- ATTS testing
Day of the event! You are ready! Ask some of the attendees to help at the greeting table with signing in of the guests keep a name, phone number, addresses and email. It will help with the next gathering you do! Have stick on name tags for everyone. ENJOY THE DAY, HAVE FUN!!!!!
Some Advice. If the gathering is at your home, you do not have to clean everything! People will not notice, nor will they care, if your windows are just washed or not. Have things clean but just “NORMAL” clean. Keep it simple! Don’t worry, it will all go fine, everyone will enjoy themselves and have fun!
Les and I put on a benefit one year and had 200 people at our home. I decided to cook 15 pounds of dried pinto beans. It took me 3 huge pots and 3 days to have home made pintos. All was good and well. I left the kitchen and had the pots on low to warm the beans. Thirty minutes later, I smelled beans and they did not smell right. SCORCHED is what HIGH heat will do to beans. Someone “turned up the heat”. I sent Les to town to purchase four gallons of canned pintos, heated them up, and NO ONE KNEW THE DIFFERENCE. Well I did, and so did my friends. Taught me a lesson!! All was well and I survived (the pots did not survive).
If you put on an ES Gathering, I promise you will work hard, but YOU will have the best time of all!
- Written by Tony Bierman
- Category: Editor's Blog
- Hits: 708
I was first introduced to Puppy Culture around two years ago. I was researching breeders of Australian Shepherds at the time. One such breeder recommended that I take a look at PC. I took her advice, joined the PC Facebook group, and read what practitioners had to say about the program. In my own words, I'd describe PC as a methodology for raising mentally and emotionally enriched newborn puppies by exposing them to a variety of exercises, scenarios and situations. During the first 15-16 weeks of a pup's life, he or she is more available to train quickly and with less barriers to learning. Puppy Culture breeders take advantage of this early period in a pup's formation to give him or a her a head start on the road to an enriched, happy lifetime. Dogs trained in these methods are often termed 'operant', capable of making good choices.
I never did get a new Australian Shepherd. After reading Janet Vorwald Dohner's book titled Farm Dogs A Comprehensive Breed Guide, I determined that the English Shepherd was the right breed for me. I did however buy this Puppy Culture DVD Bundle. I remember at the time thinking it was a little expensive, but I knew I'd be getting a new English Shepherd soon. I wanted to be prepared, so I enthusiastically watched the 4 DVD set from beginning to end. I'm glad I did. Jane Killion explained the first several weeks of a pup's life in a way that I could understand. Even though the DVDs are more geared towards dog breeders, as a dog owner I was able to learn and apply a lot of the lessons to my new puppy when he arrived. In fact, more than a year later I watched the entire DVD set once more before getting my second English Shepherd pup.
I haven't heard of many English Shepherd breeders using the Puppy Culture method. Until recently, the only Puppy Culture ES Breeder that I have been aware of was Edenvillage English Shepherds of England. I'm sure there are others. Recently, Holly Nestberg's Bonnybrooke Shepherds of South Carolina had a PC litter here in the U.S. Holly's litter was whelped on May 11 from sire Michaleen of Bonnybrooke (ESC-3034) and dam Green Mountain's Bonny of Pine Forest (ESC-1842). Holly was kind enough to agree to let me interview her about her recent Puppy Culture litter.
Tony: “Hi Holly, thanks for taking time to speak with me today. You are an experienced and respected English Shepherd breeder. What led you to try Puppy Culture for this litter?”
Holly: “Honestly, it was feedback from previous litters' puppy folks. Some of them were telling me that when their English Shepherds hit the teens period, they were seeing anxiety. Not necessarily a fear period, but more like an uneasiness during normal interactions and exchanges. I think a lot of true aggression is fear-based. So, it's interesting to me how that plays out in the English Shepherd's world. With a lot of dog breeds, you might have a flight response in these scenarios. But often times English Shepherds feel that the way to feel better is to step-in and control the situation. So, I looked at Puppy Culture as a way to expose them to new things and to instill in their minds a willingness to experience the novel things. Instead of feeling like they have to go into an evaluative mindset of suspicion that is common to the herding breeds. Of course, that mindset is a valuable thing on the small farm in situations like 'oh, the pigs are out' or 'oh, there's a predator'. But, I don't necessarily think it's helpful for every new thing to get that response. You want [a dog with] a thinking brain instead of a reactive brain. So, I knew that Puppy Culture could help set that up. Getting them more operant instead of just reacting to 'new equals scary'. I want them to think new is interesting, 'what can I do with this?'. Instead of just pure alarm barking where they're not even being objective.”
Tony: “Leading into this litter, what did you do differently? How did you prepare differently?”
Holly: “I watched the [Puppy Culture] DVDs and used the binder. What I appreciated about Puppy Culture was it organized things in a way that made it simple to execute the different things that I wanted to do. When you have a litter of puppies, just getting the daily work done can be overwhelming. So using a framework like Puppy Culture alleviates a lot of the tension. I also bought a lot more toys, a lot more interactive things. I bought yoga mats for better footing. And a couple more ex-pens.”
Tony: “I'm not an experienced breeder, so I've always assumed that introducing Puppy Culture would add an additional layer of complexity to the breeding process. Something else to worry about during an already chaotic period. But if I understand correctly, you're saying the PC format and structure actually made it easier?”
Holly: “Yes, it did. She has the important stuff laid out. She tells you what to look for, and what to do when it happens. It's really helpful. You're not re-inventing the wheel. For a breeder, puppy-brain is real. You're sleeping in a recliner. You start to feel overwhelmed. It can be easy to lose track. Honestly, there were a lot of breeders using some elements of Puppy Culture before it became a cohesive plan. But it helps you to have it written there, organized in black and white.”
Tony: “Will you use Puppy Culture again for your next litter?”
Holly: “Yes if I were to have future litters, I would absolutely do Puppy Culture. But, I'm not sure I'll have another litter. My two ES girls are 6 years old now. I'm not sure, simply because of life stages. I know professional breeders that re-home, but I couldn't do that anymore than I could jump to the moon. These are dogs that bond to you. I'm bonded to them.”
Tony: “My last question is, how do you feel Puppy Culture methods affected this litter? What was different as a result of using PC?”
Holly: “I do Volhard tests because I find the results interesting. This litter was a repeat breeding between Bonny and Michaleen. For several of the test criteria, I saw what I'd call improvements. In the previous litter, I saw puppies that might not engage at all when that umbrella opened. They might even leave. None of the puppies from this litter left. They all stepped forward to see what it was. These puppies wanted to know 'what was that noise?', they wanted to find out more about it.”
I feel that Puppy Culture is a lot like sending your kid to the best preschool in town. Is it absolutely necessary? Maybe not in all cases. But more and more, our versatile farm shepherds are finding themselves in roles beyond the homestead. Why not prepare them as well as possible for what life has in store? As a breeder, you may already have your protocols similar to PC. The advantage of Puppy Culture is as a recognized, established and acclaimed program that any breeder can study, practice and leverage to produce good dogs. A standard. I think there's value in that.
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