50 Miles of Rough Road…

Finally came up with the best way to describe how I am feeling today…. “Like 50 miles of rough road…”

Now, mind you, even rough road is road that can make things happen, and I’m not bellyaching at all, just feeling a little worn out after the last week or so of activity!!! I’m quite sure I’m overdoing it at times and then it just plumb tuckers me out for a day or two afterwards! But when I think of all that accomplished… oh boy! That just makes up for any tuckering out that might come afterwards…

You see. I went and did it. I committed. I announced our Open House Picking Party Jam at the farm. Yes. I did.

September 11th, 2010.


18 days from now.

Now, you can see why I’ve been a little distant with writing and all! I’m usually so tired out at the end of the day, that I just haven’t got the energy to do so!

I’ve been putting this wonderful event off for months now. All my friends tenderly ask, prodding me a little to see if I’m going to actually ever set a date. And I would himmm and hawww…. thinking it over. I just wanted to get to a certain point in the renovations, you know, a sort of “ah ha!” point that felt right. Well at the Opry last Monday I had at least 150 people asking me… hahah… okay, at least a good couple dozen…

“So when you having your open house jam???”

Bluegrass people don’t ever miss out on a chance to pick, visit and pot luck. It’s pretty much the foundations of our whole music, you know. And I have family and such that seem to think they need a big old open house to make it right and bring in this new estate into the collective family memories.

Okay, okay. Fine. I knew it had to be a Sunday. Because there are too many jams and gigs for a lot of my music buddies on Saturday nights. And I knew I wanted it with a chance of a nice cool day and lovely night so we can bonfire and just enjoy the day without humidity and bugs and all that. Granted, there’s still a chance, because September around here can be pretty iffy in the predicability department of weather. But if I push it back too far in the month, there’s always the chance of it being a little too cold.

Yet I am competing with the 10th anniversary of that tragic day in September… and to top it off, it’s Grandparent’s Day! Well, if you wait for the perfect free day, you gonna wait forever, if you know what I mean.

You’re all welcome! Drop on by, if you’re in the area…. come and oogle the place first hand. Stop and visit and be sure to find me and say hello! We’ve got a Facebook page with all the particulars…. I’ll pop a link to it here…


Be sure to LIKE me, if you’re a Facebook fan. I go back and forth about it, but I will admit, often I will pop in there for a quick update or witty little statement or two before I will come here and write out something with much more thought and effort!!! (haha) So if you really need your Windhaven report, that’s a good way of keeping up with the Jones…. or well, the Chekals at least!

My lovely ladies…. in the afternoon sunlight.

Well, here’s a little roundup of all we have been doing.

Middle of the week, we got the house and yard all ready for a visit by Meshell and Pat… friends of mine from years and years ago!!! We hung out in high school and college days and then lost touch. But through Facebook, we’ve been chatting and texting and visiting and it’s like the time hasn’t even passed. They came out on Friday and they brought us a lovely used washer that was taking up some space in their garage!!! How cool is that? We just love these wonderful donated pieces of appliances to the farm! I always think so fondly of whom brought them when we use them and the graciousness of the offer just makes me smile and know that we have wonderful friends!

We had such a lovely visit and time to chat and walk about the farm. I never tire of sharing our plans and ideas of the place, trying to project a bit of the vision we have for this year, next year and a few down the line. So often, I just want to have it all done, as if there is some deadline, but I’m getting better at realizing, things just take time. Meshell and I have always been good at pinging ideas and brainstorming and I love how we just got right down to it, figuring out a few things, walking about and getting more ideas!!! Just wonderful!

We had lunch out in the yard under the shade of the big middle yard trees. And of course, we had about 20 chickens all watching us with curiosity and three ewes that would occasionally interrupt a conversation looking for a scratch or a hand out!!! It was really funny. I wish we had taken a bunch of pictures, but we were all so busy chatting and lunching, the afternoon just vanished!!!

Crazy thing though… just before lunch we managed to wrangle Lilly and found that the reason she had been a little skittish and LIMPING… was that she had picked up a little silver thumbtack in her hoof! It had missed the hard shell of the hoof and was pushed into a softer space!!! OOOOooooohh…. well, we got that out and she seemed relieved. I have NO idea where she got that, but then, the people before were very very careless with their trash piles and all over the place, that I’m not too surprised.

Well, after we said our goodbyes to Meshell and Pat, with much hugging, eggs and plans for another visit REAL soon… Maggie and I went out to check on Lilly again, as she was still a little limpy and I was worried about the puncture getting icky. Checked my sheep book… got a pail of real warm water and put in some Epsom salt…. got a little tube of anti-biotic cream and a couple gauze pads and a roll of livestock bandage wrap that I had for emergencies. Oh yeah and a pail of animal crackers and her halter. Haha… yeah, it was going to be a real first time large animal administering… and I had no clue what to do! I was a little afraid to try that sheep flip maneuver. Like that little picture.

Apparently, sheep have this one weakness. (Aside from animal crackers, donuts and party lights) And that is, if you can get them tipped back on their rump, they are totally immobilized. Shhh…. that is a HUGE sheep secret and I’m pretty sure they will be ticked to know that I just shared it with all of you!!! That’s how all those handsome Australian lads can flip and shear a sheep in 15 seconds flat, or something like that. It’s the flip.

Problem is, I’m looking at my sheep manual… the Storey Guide to Sheep…. and I’m reading the text and looking at these crazy diagrams and the first thing is… insert you fingers in the side of their mouth and reach over to grasp their hind leg.


Fingers in the mouth?

And then grab a hind leg?

And they are suppose to just accept this ninja shepherd move that is going down on them? Huh? Hahah…. yeah right.

So I decided instead to invent the Windhaven method of sheep capture. I went in the paddock, with a big pail of animal crackers and the halter and lead in my back pocket. Of course Lilly followed me, she is such a cracker freak. After a cracker or three, I slipped the halter on. Of course, she was a little weary of that maneuver, but I let her put her head in the bucket afterwards so she was happy. Then I subtly wrapped the lead around the lawn chair I had brought and plopped myself in said chair so that she couldn’t leave. She stopped for a moment while inhaling crackers to look at me with that weird wary sheep eye, but then said, oh well, and popped down for another cracker. I got her foot up, thankfully, it’s a fore hoof and I could reach it and Maggie, my assistant, deftly plopped a bucket of foot soak underneath and we set it in the water. Lilly paused for a moment’s chewing, looked at me, looked at Maggie and looked at the bucket. I of course was talking in soft soothing sheep-spa tones and massaging the sides of her neck and then offered another cracker. She was fine with it and we got a lovely 10 minute soak outta the maneuver. Haha…

Once the soak was done, we slipped a little cream in there, a couple pads and a lovely loose but stable wrap job of her lower leg and the hoof. It was a beautiful purple wrap, and she eyed it for a moment, holding it up and pondering what had just happened. But then she popped it down, tenderly and was soon hopping all over the place once I let her loose.

But the wonderful thing… was that the next morning? I actually managed to get her flipped! Maggie was still sleeping and I didn’t want her hoof to get soft and too damp. So I just figured, darn it. If I’m going to be a shepherd, I’m going to have to learn to flip a sheep. It’s for their own good, and I’m not always going to have a halter, lead, lawn chair and cookies with me if an emergency came up. Maybe the cookies part. Cookies are always handy in emergencies.

So I steeled myself up, and walked out into the yard with a determined stride. Lilly and her flock ran over, as they always do, anticipating something good. I had a couple animal crackers with me, but not many. I offered one or two and then gave an apology to my dear gal for the event now coming. My first Ninja Shepherd manuever.

Well, I decided that the finger in the mouth thing was for whimps. So I just got ahold of her head and turned her towards me quickly. Then I reached around and caught what I thought was her hind leg, but instead was her front leg and then the struggle was on. She was on to me. She looked back up at me, still crunching her cracker, with a look of pure disapproval. I knew I had to work fast, so I rolled her back and somehow managed to get her on her opposite hip and again my knee, so I just did this weird little hop and managed to get her square up on her rump and right in the middle of my legs, with my arm around her neck and my hand holding her fore hoof in the air like some weird wrestling move. She graciously gave me her disapproval with a long baaaa and the other two hightailed it and left her to her own resources.

Sheep are really not good at sticking around for their buddies in a time of need.

I caught my breath. I had done it. I had a 50 pound sheep laying on my bum knee, staring at me with all the evil thoughts a ewe could muster. But she was still. No struggle. I cautiously let go of her hoof and it just sort of flopped down to her chest. I fished out a cracker from my pocket and at first she turned away. We were no longer friends. But then, oh, 15 seconds later, my little chow hound decided if it was going to be her last meal, she might as well take it and then I knew everything was fine. I unwrapped that foot, was happy to see that it was not soft, and was not hot to the touch, indicating infection, so said the manual. Her joint was not swollen, and the leg seemed fine, so I hadn’t wrapped it too tight! Success!

I didn’t want to keep her uprighted and feeling all exposed long, so I did a quick check of her other hooves, noted that they were nice and clean, and checked to make sure she didn’t have any weirdness on her tummy. Just a quick check for anything that would just leap out and smack me of being weird. Of course, as a novice shepherd, I’m not totally sure I would have known what to truely look for, but I can say that I have seen the tummy and udder of a ewe and it looked ah, fine to me. Of course, Lilly was a little indignant.

I just eased her over on her hip and forward and she lunged to her feet and put a few yards between us FAST. But then, to her credit, she stopped and looked at me with this weird sort of sheep smile. I’m not sure, but I think she was giving me a good grade on my first Ninja Sheep Flip. Or she was wondering if I had any more crackers. She hobbled off and found her disloyal flock mates.

I am happy to report that she seems to be doing better, putting weight on the foot, but still a little hobbly in her gait. I am hoping that she’s just babying it, and every day has been better. I’ve read a bunch and they all seem to say that sheep are good at going lame. But it’s not showing any signs of infection, or that sort of yucky stuff, and it’s not hot or swollen, so I’m hoping it’s just a ploy for more goodies.

Well, after that adventure, I decided that we needed to up our efforts in open house prep and yard cleanup. I enlisted the help of the neighbor boys and we all got busy! This is all we got done!!!

Dug and cemented the poles for the sheep paddock.
Hung the paddock gate
Totally raked and dug out the paddock and laid down fresh hay
Cleaned out the 55 gallon tub and installed it in the paddock
Picked up TWO feed bags of glass and metal junk from the burn pile closer to the house
Chopped off the tops of the branch fence!
Moved the latch of the branch fence so it works better
Replaced the rotten boards on the little white bridge
Trimmed the long locust tree branches that were hanging over the powerlines to the barn
Dug another post hole for the coop gate
Reattached the trim to the coop
Totally cleared away ALL the weeds from the old barn foundation
Found a fish pond back there!!!
Cleaned out the fishpond and gathered up all the rocks that were around it
Filled it with water and found it’s leaking, so we’ll get a new liner for it….
Weed whacked all over the back area
Mowed through THREE gallons of gas! (That’s like oh 9 tanks of the mower!)
Mowed a bunch of tall grass and all around the burn barrel and the cornfield and pasture
Hung a tire swing in the wind chime tree! (it’s sooooo cool)
Moved the hammock out near the barn
Moved a BUNCH of huge branches that we trimmed off some trees
Weeded like nuts all over
Cut down some little volunteer trees and cleared another weed patch
Added a big 3 gallon waterer to the little coop
Broke out some broken glass panes in this cool old decorative window
Gathered trash
Moved lawn chairs around
Cleaned the bunnies cages
And picked up a zillion sticks so we can mow better all over the place!

In two days!!! At one point there was six of us here all working, it was a very busy place!!!

Posts in place… gate not quite hung.

I wish I had taken more pictures, and I had but then my camera was a little funky and won’t let me recover some of the images. Darn it. I had a funny picture of one of the young chickens sitting on Lilac’s back! Pretty amuzing. But suffice it to say, we were all so busy, there wasn’t a lot of time for photography!

We worked into the late evening, finally deciding it was time. We worked again on Monday for many more hours and I was just beat! Everyone was starting to sort of droop a bit, so I think it was time to take a day or two off. Besides, Tuesdays are my Town Days… when I head to the big city for practice and a zillion errands.

I did get a few shots in the evening and this one was the cream of the day’s accomplishments… Maggie managed to catch Bucka Roo! It was pretty funny… he is really really good at avoiding capture. But he zigged when he should have zagged and she nabbed him! Funny thing is that he fussed a moment and then was quietly resigned to the indignity of being carried around for a while. He’s such a good rooster, I just love him to pieces!!! Maggie was SO thrilled… she’s never been able to hold him and so she good a good bit of time in, holding and talking to him. FInally she left him go and he ruffled his feathers a bit and cackled a pale little bit of annoyance and walked off. Of course, now, he won’t go too near to her at all! Unless she has donuts for him.

He’s a fool for donuts.

A few chicken cam shots. I love just setting the camera down on a rock or bench and taking pictures at chicken level. I think they are so fascinating. The white chicken is Floppy Chicken. She’s our only white leghorn and the only one that lays white eggs. Her comb is sooooo floppy, I wonder if she can even see outta that eye! She’s a funny little girl. She is quick and small for her breed but she hangs with the best of them, always right in the middle of the action.

I am happy to report that we have had another month of very successful chicken growing. All our nuggets are still with us, alive and getting HUGE! All my free range flock are doing well, and every night come to the roost. Maggie has been selling eggs left and right to her dedicated cast of fans and Tuesday is egg day for us! I made the mistake of using a couple in MY frig, not the egg frig and she about had a cow! Apparently, she needed the last three for her own orders and I had messed her up. With a sigh, she says, I’ll go check the ladies and see if they have any more…. and thankfully they did!!!

It’s week seven for our little meat chickens… and I guess that any time now we can take them in for finishing. I have decided that they get to stay for the party. They will be about 10 weeks when they go in for the final ride. I want them to continue to have a marvelous summer… what is so wonderful is that with the addition of our homegrown five chicks, now young pullets and cockerels, the nuggets have begun a sort of renaissance, a revival of chicken life. At first, they would never go outside, but the Bucka 5 do, so now the nuggets do. They eat grass and bugs and have even learned how to dig a little wallow in the dirt and sand bathe. They lay in the sun with the 5, and are even getting into little pecking wars with everyone, trying to be the biggest, baddest of the flock. It’s cool to see them patterning off the homegrown heritage chicks.

Still, this doesn’t mean I’m extending their executions, just giving them a little longer in the beautiful warm summer sunshine and all. They seem really happy, and just love it when we sprinkle a little crack corn out in the yard for them to scramble and scratch. But you can tell, they are just not built for it. The Bucka 5, they will run around and scratch and drop kick each other and play for hours, but the nuggets, they play a few moments and then flop down to rest. Their legs and systems are just not built for that sort of chicken nonsense. Running around doesn’t put meat on a bird. Still, I think it’s good. I like coming out and seeing the whole big bunch of them in the coop yard, picking at greens, laying in the sun and just being happy little dorks. It will make it much easier for me to take them in after the open house.

All our eggs in the incubator seem to be doing pretty well. I’ve candled a lot of them and they mostly all seem to be really viable and doing well. I know, I know, you can’t count your chicks until they hatch, but I am hoping that we get a pretty good percentage of hatch. There are over 45 eggs in there… I’m hoping for at least 70 to 75%. The little bantys were the first in there… they are on day number 13. 8 more days or so. The Marans will be about a week behind them. And the last will be the quail and the Jersy Giants. I just can’t wait! Jessy is right, we should have chicks and maybe even hatching chicks for the open house! How cool is that?

I need to keep an eye out for a nice big, rectangular box for all the babies to hang in. We’ve tried a couple things now, livestock tubs, plastic totes, aquariums, but I think in the end, a big old sturdy cardboard box is perfect. Lined with paper towels at the bottom to wick some of the moisture away and then fine shavings, it’s the perfect medium for the new chicks for a few weeks. And in the end, you just burn or recycle the box. No risk of contaminating any new chicks.

Marilyn inspecting the sheep paddock gate…

Folks have been asking us about the nuggets and will we do more and when and all, but I think we will probably not raise anymore until spring. After all, we’ll have 26 birds to harvest and I plan on giving away a few, but most are going into our freezer. One good sized bird can feed us two meals, so I imagine they will last at least 12 to 15 weeks. That will get us through the fall and into the winter. I suppose we might consider a late winter flock, since they will be inside for a few weeks… but we’ll see. I’m trying to keep winter chores to the minimum and easy on us. We’ll see how it goes. We’re so busy with holiday rock and mineral kit orders, I don’t want to layer on tooo many extra responsibilities. I suspect though, that in the spring we will consider doing 50 birds instead of just the 25! We’ll see how it goes!

We’ve been having a little trouble with Miss Evee. Our little Aussie Shepherd dog. She’s 15 months old and starting to develop a true hatred for chickens and sheep. She ripped up a window screen to try and get out to them, and then later on escaped into the yard and was super aggressive and mean to the sheep and hens. I thought she hurt a hen bad, and she ran the sheep so much, I was going to kill her. And she would not come to us, or stop, no recall, nothing, she was just in pure anxiety mode. I really think some of it is fear. She is soooo anxious about them, just really really upset. Gypsy is fine, she’s interested but her response is more like I would expect. But Evee is just over the top.

I’m not going to go into the finer details of it all, because I was so upset at one point, I just didn’t know what to do to bring some peace to the yard. So I went to the wonderful Homesteading forum and posted all about it. Thank goodness, some kind hearted and well meaning folks stepped up and really saved the day for us all. You can read all about it…

Homesteading Today – Aussie Dog Posts

I am so happy to report that things are getting better. Slowly, for sure. But better. Of course, it’s mostly OUR behaviors and actions that needed to be changed up, but thankfully, we got the hint sooner than later. I never really expect her to “work” our sheep, because I never plan to have more than 5 at the most. And since they are all like treat trained lap dogs, getting them to do anything is pretty easy. Heck, they would probably follow me down the road with a bucket of donuts and a good stick. But I want everyone to be reasonably safe and a screen ripping, freaked out dog is not safe.

I snapped this picture a few nights ago and it really captures how things are improving. Evee is sitting with Jessy, out by the coop, with the chicks around and the sheep off grazing to the left of the picture. And she’s calm. Of course, this is after nearly an hour of freaking out and Jessy just calmly sitting and not reacting to any of her anxiety. Finally, she will calm down and just watch. And that is the REWARD for us. I’m so hoping that we can reach a middle ground. I don’t mind if she’s focused, or excited to see the sheep and animals, that’s her nature, I totally get it. But I can’t have her totally berserk, out of command, and terrorizing the animals either. There needs to be a middle ground. And I think we will get there.

Well, this post is getting to be a giant one!!! And I need to go and get a little work done before this electrical storm that is brewing shuts me down. We loose power at a drop of the hat out here… haha…. it’s amazing. And if we get some serious rain like they are predicting, the satelite won’t work well. So I better get this wrapped up.

But, yeah, we’re fine! Just cracking the whip and trying to get everything done before the big unvieling!!! I finally decided that I should not freak out about it, because since so many people have NEVER been here, they won’t see all the progress really, so I shouldn’t make it so hard on myself that I dread the whole process. I want to have fun!!! So I sat down today and refreshed my MUST DO pack of cards and there are about 30 cards. So if I can get just 2 a day done, we’re doing fabulous! Maggie and Jessy are eager to help and so are our fantastic wonderful amazing awecious neighbors!!!! (Luv you all!!!!) And worse comes to worse, there are several lawn and handy man services in the area, so I’m pretty sure we will make it. After this big work adventure last weekend, I am just in love with the place!!! Oh my gosh, the back third is really shaping up and we have a little fish pond!!!! How cool is that? I can’t wait to get a liner and get some little goldfish in there at the very least. Maybe a little fountain!!!

Take care everyone…. and don’t forget… if you want very frequent little tidbits about the farm, then LIKE us on our Facebook page… haha… you’ll get frequent updates as to the fun going on here!


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About Mobymom

the banjo player for Deepwater Bluegrass, and the editor of BuckeyeBluegrass.com as well as the main graphic designer of the Westvon Publishing empire. She is a renaissance woman of many talents and has two lovely daughters and a rehab mobile home homestead to raise.


50 Miles of Rough Road… — 5 Comments

  1. Have you weighed any of the nuggets lately? I don’t want to scare you, just forewarn you, but they will let you know when they have gone too long because you’ll lose one or more. If you do, take the rest in and don’t wait. We made that mistake the first time we raised meaties, thinking it was just that one that had issues and hey, they aren’t THAT big yet. When we butchered the rest, several of them had green meat near the breast bone. I read several places it’s because their hearts and other organs start to give out and they can’t get oxygen and nutrients to all of their body. I threw that meat out because I wanted to be 100% sure we were safe, so we lost valuable meat due to our delay.

    Congrats on all the word you did, that’s a lot! Would love to see the little pond, even in it’s current cracked condition if you ever need to fill up a bit of space. :)

  2. Hi Sherri,
    I just found your blog about a month ago and started from the beginning and have been reading in real time for the last couple weeks, but I’ve never commented before. I have been so inspired and amazed by all that you and your daughters have accomplished. It is such a beautiful thing. I wish wish wish I was anywhere near you so I could come to your unveiling and say this to your face and to Maggie and Jessy, but I will have to settle for here: Thank you for sharing your incredible journey with me, it has brought me much joy and fed my sense of possibility. Your work ethic blows me away. I am so happy for you all at Windhaven.

  3. glad to read you again. just reading about all the work made me tired. i am 73 but when i was young i could work like that. we lived on a farm when my kids were little. i was born and raised in a town. i soon learned to drive the tractor and bring in the cows. many years ago. we had a pig named ralph. when we sat down to eat the kids asked if it was “ralph.”

    have a wonderful time at your pickin’ picnic.

  4. Hi Sherri,

    I read the posts about Evee on the Homesteading Today forum. I must agree with Donna1982: Working breeds need a job. It doesn’t matter if they are a pet or come from working stock. A “pet quality” dog can be trained to be a working dog; it’s not behavior dependent on family history. Working is hardwired in their DNA. They have to have a job, and if you don’t provide them with one, they will find one and it will most likely be destructive not only to property but potentially to themselves (such as chasing cars). Evee has decided for herself that her job is protecting her family from those strange creatures on the homestead. She is taking on the role of alpha in this situation because she has not been given direction by the alphas in her “pack” (her human family). It also contributes to the anxiety as she is being placed in the alpha role that she instinctively knows shouldn’t be hers. By giving her a job to do, and directing her behavior she will see what her role in the “pack” is and will become compliant.

    One thing I must point out is a misconception about positive versus negative reinforcement. I don’t know when, why or how we associated “positive” as good and “negative” as bad but that is incorrect. There is no morality with it; it’s more of a math/comparative-to-baseline type thing. Positive means you are adding something and negative means you are taking something away. (Giving a treat and spanking are both positive reinforcements as you are adding something to enforce or discourage the behavior; grounding is negative reinforcement as you are taking away a freedom or a privilege to discourage a behavior. Negative reinforcement can also be used to encourage a behavior, such as giving a child a break from a chore for a week for doing something desirable.) Positive feedback is not always a good thing. Thermonuclear meltdown is the result of a positive feedback loop. It’s like having the thermostat on your furnace wired backward so that the hotter the temperature gets, the more the furnace runs. A furnace needs a negative feedback loop so that it shuts off when the desired temperature is reached.

    What Sue did with Song was brilliant. What Sue used on Song was both positive and negative feedback. Since dogs are social pack animals, they thrive on interaction with their pack members. Sue removed her reaction/interaction with Song while Song was behaving badly (negative reinforcement) and as soon as Song behaved the way Sue wanted her to (quieting down), Sue applied a positive reinforcement – the click. Using a clicker is the best way to “mark” a desired behavior. That’s why it works so well. Dogs use associative thinking. They associate a response with what occurred immediately before it. That is why you must never scold a dog when it runs away and you catch it. They don’t associate the scolding with the fact that they ran away from you; they associate it with you catching them and to avoid the scolding in the future, they won’t let you catch them again. (Here’s a pop quiz: Is scolding positive or negative reinforcement?)

    The trainer that taught me clicker training (and I’ve forgotten her name – sucks to get old) had an Aussie named Chaz (funny that I remember the dog’s name, LOL). It was because of Chaz that she got into clicker training as Chaz was/is a very intelligent dog and was coming up with some very inventive (and destructive) jobs to do. She took Chaz to a clicker training class and Chaz was hooked! When her clicker class was completed, Chaz continued to learn new things as her “job”, becoming a trick dog extraordinaire and they went on to agility, then to teaching classes together! Chaz’s new “job” was to demonstrate each of the commands that were being taught in the class. She was addicted to that clicker. When that clicker came out, she would get very excited and if her trainer didn’t ask for a behavior soon enough (like when she was explaining something to the class or when she was trying to teach a new behavior), Chaz would start “throwing” behaviors at her, starting with a “sit”, then a “down” and if that still didn’t get her a “click” she would start working through her (extensive!) repertoire of commands and tricks.

    One other thing I would like to recommend to you is to get Evee a “Gentle Leader” from Premier Pet Products. It works by applying pressure at the back of the neck instead of the throat. (There is a competing product called Halti but it isn’t as adjustable so doesn’t fit well and is more apt to come off.) One advantage to the Gentle Leader is that it’s design incorporates the use of calming pressure points on the dog’s muzzle and the back of the neck. In the pack, when dominant dogs wish to “correct” an unruly pup, they place their mouth around the pup’s muzzle. They also will grab the pup’s scruff of the neck (like they would to pick the pup up and the natural response is for the pup to go limp) and sometimes give a little shake. The GL places pressure in that same zone. It also eliminates pulling as the head is turned back toward the handler. A dog can’t pull with it’s head in that position. (Never, EVER use a choke collar or a pinch prong collar! They can permanently damage the trachea.) In the case of Chaz, she was so well trained already, she obviously didn’t need a Gentle Leader, but her trainer decided to get one for demonstration purposes. The first time the Gentle Leader was placed on Chaz in the classroom to demonstrate it’s use, her trainer noticed an unusual behavior. Typically, what would happen in the class is that Chaz would be asked to demonstrate a command and when it was time for the class to teach the command to their dogs, Chaz was released to wander around the training area. She would either go play with one of the toys in the room or would “supervise” the training of the other dogs. When Chaz was released after the demonstration of the Gentle Leader, her trainer left it on her while she was answering a question. When she turned to take the GL off Chaz, she saw Chaz had moved off to one side of the room and put herself in a “down”. Her trainer walked up to her and removed the GL, released her again and Chaz started her normal interaction with the class. As an experiment, she called Chaz back to her, put the GL back on, and released her again. Again Chaz went back to the side of the room and put herself in a “down”. Even when the GL was not being used actively, it was working on those calming pressure points on her muzzle. (A GL should never be left on a dog unsupervised; it could get hooked on something and the dog could panic and hurt itself.) The cheapest I’ve found them online is for $12.79 for all sizes here or here; cheaper than amazon. (Premier has also come up with a new product called a ‘calming cap’ that is like a blindfold. From some of the reviews I’ve read it sounds like people are very happy with it.)

  5. “How to Wrestle A Sheep”. That’s the best animal story I have read since reading James Herriot. Terrific! And hilarious. (: