Rick and Rachel

Rick and Rachel

We lost a couple more dogs here at Alba Ranch as well.  This has been a difficult time for us.  I thought I had better get caught up a bit with what has been going on…but for a while I just wanted to take a moment.

 

 

Rick

Rick

(Feb 2016-March 21, 2018)

 

Rick we had to let go just two days after Cinnamon and Nutmeg passed over.  He came to use at about 10-11 months old and where he had been before was not good for him.  He had been abused so much by a family and returned to the breeder after extreme damage had been done to him….both mentally and physically.

He was the sweetest boy and had such a sweet loving heart but he could not trust humans and had anxiety that was off the charts.  We worked with him for almost 1.5 years but he was having so many physical issues as well as mental issues that it was just better for him and for all the dogs in the house that we let him go.  His pain had to be ended.

Whatcha sayin?

 

on the move

It was one of the hardest ones I have ever had to let go…and trust me none are easy ….but this one was super hard.  85% of the time he was our loving boy Rick and would sit for hours letting you pet him or just lie near you.  The other 15% he was unpredictable, dangerous and in so much mental anguish and pain.  That anguish and pain was coming out against the other dogs, against me and against any person that might be here.  Rick did not want to be that way but he could not control it.

I truly hope that those people that had him will never have another dog or animal in their entire life as what was done to him was unthinkable and certainly unforgivable.

He is free now and no longer in pain of any kind, nor can he harm any other person or dog which was one of his fears as well.

 

Rachel

(October 2014-June 4, 2018)

Rachel guarding

 

Rachel came to us from Ohio with two of her brothers, Ike and Toobies.  She has been one of our Livestock Guardian Dogs  (LGD) ever since.  I really did like Rachel and she loved to be petted.  She also tried to lick me to death and would dig some pretty intensive holes everywhere.  She was also the one that told us about any coyotes, or any other predators about and would not stop telling us until they left…which could be all night. ha!

She was with Willow when we had the predator attack last year.  The attack that killed Willow and really injured Rachel but no goats were harmed or lost.  They both did their jobs protecting.  Rachel has been struggling every since that time.  She was in pain, and seemed to be having some mobility issues….she was very grumpy with her goaties which I don’t recall being normal for her before this time.  Baby goaties jumping on her was very painful when normally the LGD would lie still and let the kids climb on them.

Rachel and the kid

 

She also was much more anxious and fearful than before the attack.  I think that attack forever changed Rachel and she was just not up to things anymore.  It was with a heavy heart that we said good bye to her a few weeks ago….it was hard but I know that she is no longer in pain, either physically or mentally.

 

Nutmeg and Cinnamon have passed over…..

Nutmeg and Cinnamon have passed over…..

We have had a few more losses here at Alba Ranch.  It seems like a lot lately but the reality is the entire pack was aging and all approximately the same age as well so it was a flood of them leaving one after the other as they have finished their lives over these last few years.  I knew that it was coming but that doesn’t make it any easier.

All 7 Scottish Border Collies

This post is not a poor me my babies are gone…even though seriously…poor me my babies are gone…I mean for reals….but a celebration of their lives with some photos of them growing up just to give you a glimpse of their life….all the years we have had with them.

You will see and know why we loved them from the photos.

 

 

 

 

 

Nutmeg as a pup

Nutmeg  (aka if her name is NOT Meg….what is it?)

May 26, 2004-March 19, 2018

 

Nutmeg was one of 8 pups from Pru…and we kept 3 of them.  She and her 2 sisters and her half sister Cinnamon, along with Auntie Tessa, Abbey and Pru were our 7 Scotland border collies that came over to the USA when we moved back.

Nutmeg was always my shy tri except at home.  At home she was a bully.  She ruled with a quite but iron paw.  And even Rowan, the 90 pound Anatolian, cowered in fear with just a silent lip curl from Nutmeg.  Respect…..

Nutmeg with her sisters, Sassy and Chloe passed out on top of her….always together

Nutmeg did not like little old ladies with brollies (umbrellas for you usa folks).  nope…not them at all.  She never did take to car rides.  She did not get sick in the car, or have accidents or bark and carry on, she would just sit bolt upright, panting in terror and never settle down.  When we drove from MI to CO, she did that for those two days.  And she tried to bolt out of the suburban and managed twice and took off with us chasing her after her in a parking lot, a field or whatever to get her before she hit the highway.  Needless to say, Nutmeg stayed to home a lot and that suited her just fine.

 

Nutmeg with Charlie

 

She could play football (soccer for the usa folks) like nobody’s fool.  And amazing air…oh my…she would do almost a complete flip and roll at about 4 ft high in the air for a ball.  Dive into the pond after a toy, into a puddle or a padding pond…no matter…if there was a ball…she was after it.

 

Nutmeg all grown up

She was a quiet dog and faded into the background a lot….but she was still my shy tri and I loved her until the end.  She was very still with us mentally but her body was failing when we let her go at just 2 months shy of her 14th birthday.  That is a good long life for a border collie.  Rest in peace my Nutmeggers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cinnamon the puff ball pup

Cinnamon (aka Cinnaminimoooooos)

June 3, 2004-March 19, 2018

Cinnamon was a pup from Abbey’s litter of six pups.  She had the same sire as the pups from Pru but Abbey for a mom.  She was their half sister born about 10 days after.

Charlie was taken with Cinnamon from the day he saw her.  I was not sure though.  When we were trying to decide which pups to keep, we took charlie back to work in Abredeen from Peterhead when we were living in Scotland.  I suggested he pick a pup he was considering and take that pup on the ride and see how he felt.  He chose to take Cinnamon and she promptly threw up on him…twice…so he said she had to stay being she threw up on him.

 

Cinnamon about to jump on Sass in the whiskey barrel

 

Cinnamon suffered with getting car sick for many, many years after that and it was only with a lot of work that we could get her finally OK with the car enough to NOT be sick through some nausea meds, and than began the work of getting her calm enough to even give it a go.  I mean if you got sick in the car every time you rode, you would refuse to go too.  We started with short drives like to the mail box or the end of the drive.  Or just sitting in the car and NOT going anywhere.  Even that was trying for her in the beginning as she has begun to associate the car with begin sick so much that to even be in it she would get sick.  It took a long time but she finally cracked it and than she was happy and willing to go anywhere.

 

Cinnamon, what a beauty

 

Cinnamon was a very head strong dog who was also a destructo dog.  There was barely a toy in the house that could not be destroyed by Cinnamon.  We had to have all the footballs…soccer balls…deflated but even that did not work as she would tear the leather off and rip the bladders out.  I have no idea why she had to rip things apart but there was that one day she had her first encounter with a chicken and well….you guessed it…30 seconds later the chicken was in three pieces and dead and Cinnamon never did get near a chicken again.  In her defence, the chicken had flown its coop area and flown over the fence into the dog pen so…..you know…fair game….at least in her mind.

 

Cinnamon out back

We tried Cinnamon with herding lessons but she really didn’t have any thoughts to herd.  She was like la de dah….running through the field..whats that…oh sheep..OK well…la de dah…running through the field….yup..not a sheep herder.

She would sit next to me on the couch whenever she had the chance and be so over joyed to be there that she would wiggle and drive me nuts…but she did so love being close to me.  I miss Cinnamon…she was in a fair bit of pain towards the end…and she had some tumours.  We had removed some a few years before right around the time that she lost Abbey and she never really recovered well from that.

 

Abbey and Cinnamon, side by side

She was such a mama’s girl that Abbey passing sort of took the stuffing from Cinnamon.  She even lost her will to destroy in those last couple of years.   The girls would all play and run and leap together and the four pups were the best of friends.  Rest in peace Cinnamon, you are missed.

 

The Scotland Border Collies were born in Scotland, flew to Michigan, drove to Colorado, drove back to Michigan and now are at rest in the woods near Lake Michigan.  Both Nutmeg and Cinnamon went together and they were even kenneled as pups together as well.  We felt it was fitting that they were buried together as well so their worn out fur bodies would be forever together.

 

 

Willow the Akbash, A Livestock Guardian Dog

Willow the Akbash, A Livestock Guardian Dog

Willow the Akbash, a Livestock Guardian Dog

(March 2013 – August 17, 2017)

 

It is with heavy heart that I tell you that my darling Willow, my Willowmina, has passed away.  She was 4 years old and a stunning Akbash.  Akbash are a breed of Livestock Guardian Dogs (LGD) from Turkey.  Willow guarded her goats and was always in the middle of a pile of them.

Willow, the Akbash Dog

I said good night to her and told her to guard mama’s goaties around 11 pm on August 16th.  By the time I went back out about 14 hours later, she was dead.  We appeared to have had a predator attack during the night.  Willow was fluffy and lovely clean white when I last saw her but when I found her in the barn she was covered in dirt and filthy.  She had been in a hell of a fight thrashing around in the dirt.  We had about 1 inch of rain in the wee hours of that morning and she was completely dry so I know that it happened between 11 pm and about 2 am before the rain started.

Her guarding partner, Rachel, was injured.  Rachel is a 2.5 year old Anatolian female.  Anatolian is another breed of Livestock Guardian dog from Turkey as well.  Ike was in the pen next to the girls with about 5 goats and the girls were guarding my milkers and a few kids, about 14 does in total in the other pen.  We did not have a scratch on any of the goats.  All were accounted for and on all four legs still.  Willow died protecting her goats.

Charlie and Willow in the Barnyard for Morning Coffee

That is a Livestock Guardian dogs job but to be honest I didn’t ever think we would have it happen.  I always thought their presence and barking would be enough to deter predators.  We had 9 LGD that we had combined in with the goats and retired into the house.  However the giant breeds have a shorter lifespan and we lost 6 of them last year.  I did not replace any of those dogs, so we were down to 3 Livestock Guardian dogs out in the pens with the goats and none in the house with us.  That lower number has made their collective “voice” quieter and smaller.  We had noticed that the coyotes and other predators have been coming much closer in the woods this last year since the passing of our main guard and his brother, both of which were 10.5 year old.

 

There was no broken fences, no holes in the fences, no holes dug under the fences in or out, none of the gates disturbed, no chains or locks moved, no fur on the fencing anywhere.  No evidence of anything wrong except my dead Willow and the corner of the tarp that had been attached to the top corner of the barn had been torn down.  There was no blood.  No fur except Willows everywhere but I didn’t think that odd at first as she was blowing her coat.  There had been so much rain there was also no tracks.

 

I took Willow to the vet and had a simple autopsy performed.  The left side of her body was covered in canine puncture wounds like she had been in a fight with another canine which I think was one or two coyotes or wolves.  The Right side of her body seemed OK except for a hole tear in her hip.  Well it seemed small but once the vet moved all the hair aside, she was able to see it was much worse.  And there was a tear in her shoulder on that side as well that I missed entirely with all her fur.  Both locations had the muscles torn to shreds and the vet used words like “hamburger” and “eviscerated” and a “vicious attack”.  All of that was not visible to the eye on the outside as all that damage was under the fur and skin and inside.  This attack had fractured her shoulder but it had not broken her hip.  The vet said that this trauma of those injuries on the Right side was what killed her.

Willow saying Hello to a newly born kid goat

The injuries on one side of her body did not match what I saw on the other side of her body which is why I think it was two different types of predators. I think a coyote or two got in and got into a fight with her and Rachel.  (Rachel’s injuries were all puncture wounds on her face and head and all swollen up and got infected.  She did not have any wounds visible anywhere else but walked as if she has been battered and had sore muscles everywhere on her body.)  They were scared away by a cougar.  I think the cougar was drawn in by the smell of the blood and it could hot foot jump up onto the roof of the barn as the ground is high behind the barn and there were a few stumps there that gave a leg up.  It was a simple walk across the roofs of the barns to the one in the pen, and in the dark the blue tarp might have seemed like another roof which is why the corner was torn down if the cougar tried to jump on it.  I think the cougar either hit her and slammed her on the barn or bit down on her, either way it would have taken more force to fracture a shoulder of a 90 lb Akbash fighting for her life than a 30-50 coyote or 20-30 bobcat could have managed.  I know that bears can do damage but they are inherently lazy when it comes to livestock attacks and attacking a pen with two livestock guards in it as well as having to swat down 5 foot fences would have been more work than it would have cared to exert.  Never mind the fact that bears are NOT graceful and would have done some damage to the fence as they would have torn it down and not bothered to enter the pen any other way.  That doesn’t really leave much else.

I know that a Livestock Guardian Dog’s job is to protect their stock with their lives if necessary.  But if you want my honest opinion, I would have given half the goat herd for Willow to be back with me.  Willow is family.  The goats are stock.  I begrudged every day she was in the barn yard guarding goats and not in the house guarding me.  She was my baby and I miss her terribly.  I am devastated to think her final time was so filled with pain and terror and that we have lost her so violently and so young.

Willow on Patrol in the Orchard

I did call the DNR, which told me that there are no cougars in the state of MI.  ~BULL!!~  Our neighbors have been watching a pair with two kits all summer.  Others have photos of them.  Our woods and his woods back up on each other.  Cougars have a 100 mile range of territory.  He isn’t even half a mile from me.  The cougar has been spotted south of Shelby, MI which is about 5 miles from us.  I told the DNR he didn’t know what was under his nose.  He tells me they are protected.  Hmmmmm…why is something that does not exist protected?  Like I said before ~BULL~.  If I ever see the cougar, it or I will not survive the encounter.  I follow the rule that the old Colorado mountain man told me….if you SEE a cougar, it is TOO LATE!!  They only show themselves when they are going to attack you.

 

I have seen two cougars in the wild in my entire life.  One in the mountains of Colorado at 10 am bright and sunshine day when I almost ran it over at the end of my driveway.  I think we were both stunned to see each other that morning.  And my other encounter was when one darted across the road and I almost ran over it one dark stormy night when I was out driving the back roads in Scotland.  I have heard cougars late at night when I was outside with the stock on my Colorado Ranch in the mountains…..it had a fresh kill and the screams were some of the most horrifying sounds I have ever heard in my life.  I have no desire to repeat any of that.

Rest in Peace, my Willow.

Willow, ever watchful
A Return to the Ashford Country Spinner 2

A Return to the Ashford Country Spinner 2

I have recently returned to my Ashford Country Spinner 2 wheel and decided to spin some rather fine singles on it.  I know that “they” say you can’t do that but I decided “they” were wrong.  It is a bobbin led wheel and as long as I take my time, I can put in enough twist and make a rather fine single.  I find when spinning on a slower bobbin led wheel as this, that the method of spinning is more important if you wish for a single that is thinner and not of bulky weight.

I carded up some art batts full of merino, silk, milk protein, Angelica, hand painted rovings, Cheviot and other various wools.  I blended these batts years ago with the thought to weave 3 different sweater coats.  I spun some of them at that time on the old Ashford Country Spinner and plied them up into a 2 ply.  Those yarns are waiting to be added to this yarn I am making.  Here is a photo of some of the art batts.  I thought they were just yummy.

Carded Art Batts

I have been using a modified backwards long draft.  By modified, I don’t take it up and way back with my shoulder and arm….that is way to painful.  I keep my elbow snug in to my waist, and instead bring the yarn out straight from the orifice, loop it 90 degrees around an index finger on my left hand and let the twist build up between that position and my right hand drafting backwards out to the side.

It is the best that I can ever hope to do for a backward long draft with the mechanics of my shoulder and neck.  It works and I can get going lickety split as well as I get such fine singles that if I am not careful they draft down to thread and break.  I have been seeing finer spinning out of me using this method in the last few months that I have ever produced in the last 12 years put together.  I know that I said I would NEVER spin fine…but I changed my mind…get over it.! bwhhaaaaa….

Ashford Country Spinner 2 full of yarn

“They” also said that you can put 2-2.2 pounds of fiber on that huge bobbin but again…..”they” were wrong.  I weighed my bobbin and it was 2.4 pds of fiber on it and it was NOT full.  I would need to buy a third bobbin if I plan to spin with the CS2 frequently, as winding that yarn of onto other bobbins to be able to ply it, is rather tedious.  I spiral plied some of the yarn with a mill spun fine 3 ply that I hand dyed…..about 1200 yards of that.  The rest of the yarn, I plied back with more of the same single to make a lovely 2 ply.  I didn’t necessarily ply that in a spiral like the other yarns and did end up with well over 450 yds of that as well.

 

I believe that I preferred the 2 ply to the 4 ply spiral.  I have a lot of this yarn that I spun up and plied into a 2 ply years ago on the regular Country Spinner.  That yarn is much thicker yarn but can still be combined with these yarns.  They were all meant for 1-3 woven jackets that I had planned.  I think I will still make a sweater coat jacket of some variety with these but I do not know if I will be weaving it.  To get the movement that I want and the feel that I want, I think I may use Tunisian Crochet instead.

 

Plied Yarns Hanging to Dry

Altogether, I did enjoy spinning on the Country Spinner 2 again as a regular wheel versus using it for a plying wheel or for art yarns.  I did lament that it was so slow at the top speed of 5:1 and wished it had a few speeds higher, but during this spinning marathon of several weeks I did realize that I truly do prefer a bobbin led wheel.  And I prefer a wheel with a large bobbin that I don’t have to stop and change out all the time.  I prefer not having to fiddle with Scotch tensioning and all sorts of other adjustments that just slow me down.