Trial & Error Acres
January 2012: Below is a photo of Jan taken at the Edgeworth Farm International Shedding clinic. It was cold and blustery that weekend, so Jan is wearing a coat to keep her warm. Jan didn't come home with me from the clinic that weekend, as she is now owned (and loved) by Alice Urquhart. Congratulations, Alice, on your purchase of Jan, and I'm sure that you two will become great partners both on and off of the trial field.
December 2011: There were two sheepdog trials this month (Quiet Acres and the VBCA Winter trial). The photo below is of the lovely trial field at Quiet Acres Farm near Harrisonburg, VA. The weather was cooperative and the mood was lighthearted that weekend, and a great time was had by all!!!
November 2011: This month brought us two opportunities to work with Patrick Shannahan, a two time winner of the National Sheepdog Finals. The first weekend was a handling clinic, where Patrick focuses on the handlers to sharpen their skills. The second weekend was a training clinic, where Patrick focuses on helping us train our dogs to improve their method and refine their talent. Two outstanding weekends!!! The photo below was taken during the training clinic and is of Rye nicely driving a group of ewes.
(photo by Sandy Meilan)
October 2011: The dogs and I participated in three sheepdog trials this month (Montpelier, Edgeworth, and Lexington), and what wonderful experiences we had! The Lexington trial was held on a cross-country course for horses, and this trial was Rye's debut. Tom Wilson was the judge, and the mood at the trial was lighthearted (to say the least). Well, Rye did fairly well for his first time on the trial field, but his group of sheep drifted toward one of the cross-country jumps on the trial field. I left the post to go help Rye, and Tom called out that we would get extra points if the sheep took the jump (it was all in good fun). So, I whistled to Rye to give a little push, and the photo below shows what happened next. A great time was had by all!!!
(photo by Michelle Dobbs)
September 2011: This month brought the first annual Pipedream Farm Sheepdog Trial, and what a wonderful inaugural trial it was! The weather was delightful, and the Pipedream Farm trial proved to be quite challenging for the dogs and handlers. The photo below is of my dog Kep and me at the post looking up the field for our sheep before our run began.
(photo by Lynn Roberts)
August 2011: Another of Maid's "kids" was here this month, but he was just visiting. The handsome dog below is Ginger Bruton's Brew, and we had the pleasure of having him spend a bit of time here this summer. Brew is a littermate to my Rye, Bess, and Jan, and they all certainly had a grand ol' time!
July 2011: Each summer, I attend the Kathy Knox clinic at Leslie Whitney's farm in Pennsylvania. I consider this to be my "vacation", as I have a delightful and leisurely time away from home. Below is our home away from home, and the dogs and I just love our brief time away!
June 2011: Once again, this month there were several sheepdog events taking place (Steppingstone Celtic Festival Demonstrations, Alasdair McRae's Clinic in VA, and Aled Owen's Clinic in CT). For me, the highlight was Aled's clinic, as several of my dogs are of his breeding. Aled is an excellent clinician, and he was also able to provide me with insight about my dogs heritage. Thank you, Aled, for a great clinic!
May 2011: The first weekend in May is the Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival, and once again, my dogs, our friend Mark Soper, and I provided the Working Sheepdog Demonstrations there. The crowds are always large, as hundreds of people line the arena fence to watch the demos. The dogs are the true stars of the show, and below is a photo of Kep working the Bluefaced Leicester yearlings.
(photo by Amy Davis)
April 2011: While there are several sheepdog events taking place this month (Long Shot Sheepdog Trial, Belle Grove Sheepdog Trial, Patrick Shannahan Training Clinic), the highlight was the arrival of our newest teammate, Bess! Bess is another of Maid's pups, so she is already part of the family here. She is just getting started in her career as a sheepdog, and I am looking forward to continuing her education. Welcome to Bess!
March 2011: March brings the start of Daylight Saving Time, which means that there is more time after work to train the dogs! The dogs are always anxious to get back into training, and I have to admit that I am, too. With several young dogs to train, the training sessions are rather long, but go rather quickly. I am so fortunate to have such talented dogs on the team, and they are always ready to go to work!
February 2011: Some months, the weather is rather uncooperative for training the dogs, and February is usually one of those months. So, when the ground is snow covered, the dogs are content to enjoy their back yard instead. They still assist with sheep chores at the farm, but most of their exercise is done at home.
January 2011: Like last January, this month featured two outstanding events at Florence and Tom Wilson's beautiful Edgeworth Farm in Virginia. The first event was their winter sheepdog trial, and I went to the post with Soot and Kep. It is always a pleasure to run at Edgeworth, and I was very pleased with both of my dogs' efforts. The second event was a clinic instructed by Tom Wilson focusing on the international shed. The clinic was outstanding, and my dogs and I will surely benefit from the experience. Below is a photo of Tom assisting me to make the next cut (my dog is just out of the picture to the right).
December 2010: This month, we welcomed Jan, a new dog, to the "family"! And, she is literally a part of the family here, as Maid is her mother and Rye is her litter brother. Jan is eighteen months old, and like Rye, she is just beginning her career as a sheepdog. I am really enjoying having Jan here and working her on sheep. Welcome, Jan!
November 2010: This month, Janet Harvey hosted two clinics with Patrick Shannahan, one being a handling clinic and the other being a training clinic. My dogs and I participated in both, and I am sure that we all will benefit greatly. Patrick's approach to sheepdog training is outstanding, and he is an excellent clinician. Thanks, Patrick!
Patrick helping me work with my good dog Kep.
(photo by Lynn Roberts)
October 2010: This month, there was another first for my dogs and me, when we competed in the prestigious Edgeworth Sheepdog Trial near Gordonsville, VA. Edgeworth is an absolutely beautiful farm, and the trial field there is probably the largest one in the east, with the setout being approx. 650 yards from the post. Again, my dogs Maid and Kep made me very proud, as they both were able to do the huge outrun without a problem. Maid and Kep managed to get the sheep around the course fairly well, but with very stiff competition, not well enough to place. But, they both worked very hard, and I can now say that we have survived Edgeworth!
The field at Edgeworth
September 2010: The highlight of this month was the 2010 National Finals Sheepdog Trials held at Bell Grove Plantation in Virginia, and for the first time, I was able to participate in this prestigious event. I have previously qualified two dogs for the Nursery Finals (Kep and Drift), but in those years, the Finals were in South Dakota and Oregon, a bit too far away for us to attend. But, this year, my little dog Soot and I qualified for the Nursery Finals and distance was not a problem. Soot did a very nice job for me, and we received many compliments about our run. I am very proud of Soot, my very first National Finals partner.
Soot penning at the Finals
(photo by Christine Koval)
August 2010: The dogs and I competed in a sheepdog trial at Roy and Debbie Johnson's Breezy Hill Farm near Gladys, VA. My dogs truly made me proud of them, especially my Open dogs, Maid and Kep. Maid finished in second place on the first day, but she had a difficult run on the second day, and we retired. Kep finished in fifth place on the first day, placed second on the second day, and ended up being the Open Reserve Champion for the weekend. Way to go, Kep and Maid!
July 2010: The dogs and I participated in another outstanding training clinic at Leslie Whitney's beautiful Kerales Farm near Quakertown, PA, with Kathy Knox as the clinician. Kathy does a great job evaluating each dog and handler team, then providing them with constructive comments and insightful instruction. Even the dogs enjoy the clinic, and here is a photo of Soot watching from the sidelines.
(photo by Michelle Dobbs)
June 2010: This month, Mark Soper and I provided the working sheepdog demonstrations for the Celtic Festival at the historic Steppingstone Farm and Museum near Havre De Grace, MD. The mission of Steppingstone Museum is to preserve the Harford County farming culture and artifacts of the turn of the 20th century, to educate the public about our agricultural heritage, to demonstrate the past through rural arts and crafts, and to promote related educational and community activities.
May 2010: Two months after it was started, the addition is finished, and I am thrilled with the extra space that I now have! The room is designed to be a family room, but since the dogs are my "family", it will actually be my dog room. The dogs and I love our new addition!
April 2010: The highlight this month was participating in Patrick Shannahan's training clinic at Janet Harvey's farm. I worked a couple of my dogs during the clinic, but my focus was getting my pup Rye off to a good start in his training. He did very well and my thanks to Patrick for helping me with Rye!
Rye gathering the sheep
(photo by Sylvia King)
March 2010: Now that the winter snow has become a memory and spring is right around the corner, it is time to start a new project! And, it will be a BIG project....I am having an addition built on the back of the house. Here is a photo of the area where the addition will be built.
February 2010: The big news this month seems to be the weather once again. The past few winters have been relatively snow free, but this winter has been just the opposite. We have already had six "winter weather events", and this month began with seven inches of snow on the ground from a late January storm. Then, the day after that rotten groundhog saw his shadow, we received another five inches of the fluffy white stuff. A snowfall of six inches or less is fairly easy to manage at the farm, but more than that becomes a real challenge. The forecast for this weekend is for "appreciable snowfall", so time will tell how much this area will get. Here is a photo taken of the February 3rd snowfall.
January 2010: This month's highlight has been the two outstanding events held at Tom and Florence Wilson's beautiful Edgeworth Farm in Virginia. The first event was a sheepdog trial, and my young dogs competed on the last day of the trial. I was very pleased with their efforts and received many compliments about their work. The second event was a clinic instructed by Tom Wilson focusing on the international shed. The clinic was outstanding, and my dogs and I will surely benefit from the experience. The photo below is of Soot penning in the Nursery class at the trial.
(photo by Dan King)
December 2009: The "highlight" of this month (perhaps better described as a "lowlight") was snow. There were several snowfalls this month, one bringing us almost two feet! This made training and trialing difficult to impossible, but we were able to compete in one trial in Virginia. The course was challenging, and I was very pleased with all of my dogs' efforts.
November 2009: There were several sheepdog events this month, so the dogs and I were quite busy! We performed the working sheepdog demonstrations for the Maryland Irish Festival, we competed in two sheepdog trials (in two different states), and also attended a training clinic. The dogs did very well in the demos and at the trials, and we learned a bit at the training clinic, as well. What a busy month we had! The photo below shows Soot waiting to go to the post.
(photo by Jim Poor)
October 2009: The highlight of this month came unexpectedly, making it even more appreciated. My youngster Soot is coming along nicely in her training, and I have been entering her in the Nursery class at a some local trials. Well, at the Virginia State Fair Sheepdog Trial, Soot had a nice run and earned her first win toward qualifying for the 2010 National Finals! A photo of the impressive rosette is below. Way to go, Sootie!
September 2009: There is yet another new addition to our team of working sheepdogs this month, a three year old imported bitch named Maid. Maid is my new puppy Rye's mother, and I am so pleased to have had the opportunity to purchase her. Welcome to Maid!
August 2009: This month brings a new arrival at Trial & Error Acres, a puppy that I have named Rye. Little Rye was imported in dam, and I was fortunate to be able to purchase him. He has an impressive pedigree, therefore he has some "big shoes to fill"! Welcome to little Rye!
July 2009: Summer storms often pose problems in this area, due to the high winds and torrential rains. This month we had both at the farm, and unfortunately, significant damage was done to a stately, century old ginkgo tree there. The main part of the tree remains standing, but a large portion of the crown came down and is shown below being loaded into the Berger Tree Service chipper. Fortunately, there was only minor damage where the ginkgo section landed, and thankfully, all of the animals were unharmed.
June 2009: A previous post introduced the new "maxi-van", and this month, the full size van was equipped to pull the camper to and from our sheepdog events. Using the van to tow the trailer makes for a more comfortable trip for the dogs and me, in addition to the increased space to haul all of our "stuff". The maiden voyage will be to attend a sheepdog trial the end of the month, and I am really looking forward to traveling in style!
May 2009: This month starts off with the working sheepdog demonstrations at the Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival. The weather is usually quite nice for the festival, but this year, it was far less than ideal. However, the demos go on rain or shine, and as usual, the crowds were impressed. Please check out the new Sheepdog Demos page of this website for more information about the demonstrations.
(photo by Teresa Ballard)
April 2009: The new Bluefaced Leicester lambs arrived this month at the farm, and many of the ewes produced triplets! This poses some challenges for the lambs, as "mom" is only equipped to feed two lambs at once. The lambs quickly learn to take turns, and all of the little ones get their fair share.
March 2009: There are no sheepdog trials this month, but there is still a lot to do to keep the dogs in shape for the upcoming competitions. Also, little Meg is a good age to start her training for stockwork, and I have been working her on sheep about twice a week. She shows a lot of promise, and I imagine that she will develop into a very talented and useful sheepdog.
(photo by Pam Gardner)
February 2009: There are several sheepdog trials held during the winter months, and our favorites include the winter series of trials at Long Shot Farm. My dogs often do well at Long Shot, and the highlight this month is that Lark won two of the three winter series trials and the overall high point championship in the Open Ranch class. We received a very nice basket of goodies, including hand-painted glass coffee mugs, embroidered napkins, a package of coffee, and a box of healthy dog treats. I am so pleased with Lark's performance at these trials, especially since she has been battling health problems lately. Way to go, Lark!
January 2009: The dogs need to be schooled year round, but the bitter winter temperatures require the proper outerwear (such as insulated coveralls) to keep the handlers warm. The dogs and sheep don't seem to mind working in the cold, but training sessions are kept short for everyone's benefit.
(photo by Barb Klein)
December 2008: Another holiday season is upon us, so I dug up an old photo of my dogs showing their holiday spirit. That's Bunks in the middle, with Sooner and Jack on the sides. Bunks absolutely hated wearing the Santa hat, but she cooperated long enough to get the shot.
November 2008: There is a new addition to the Trial & Error Acres team of sheepdogs this month, a nine month old pup named Soot. Soot is a delightful youngster, and I'm sure that she will mature to become a very nice sheepdog. Welcome Soot!
October 2008: An additional entry is necessary
again this month, as it has been a busy fall! And, like the other
entry this month, this one is vehicle related, too. There have been
new additions to the team of Trial & Error Acres sheepdogs, so we have
outgrown the minivan that served us well for two years. We now travel
in a full size van, which comfortably transports us all to the sheepdog
events. October 2008: October is usually a busy month for
our working sheepdog demos, and this month is no exception. My demo
partner, Mark Soper, and I perform demonstrations at several local
festivals, which requires hauling a few sheep and assorted equipment to the
site. My truck and trailer handle the job with ease, and perhaps our slogan
should be "Have sheep, will travel"! September 2008:
There's more news this month, necessitating an additional September
report! A new puppy has joined the pack, and she is an absolute delight!
Meg is a half-sister to my Kep, and I am sure that she will be a wonderful
addition to the team of working sheepdogs here at Trial & Error Acres.
Welcome little Meg! September 2008:
Even though Kep had qualified for the National Nursery Finals, we didn't go,
as the event was held in South Dakota. Instead, I opted to go to the North
East Border Collie Association (NEBCA) regional Finals in Massachusetts.
Well, Kep did a great job at the trial, and he is now the 2008 NEBCA Ranch
Champion. Way to go, Kep!
(photo by Jim Allen) August 2008: Once again, we are experiencing summer
drought conditions here, necessitating feeding hay to the sheep, as the
available forage is gone. Fortunately, we received enough rainfall in early
September to revive the pastures somewhat. However, we will need weekly
rainfall for the fields to fully recover, so I hope that it continues
throughout the fall.
October 2008: An additional entry is necessary again this month, as it has been a busy fall! And, like the other entry this month, this one is vehicle related, too. There have been new additions to the team of Trial & Error Acres sheepdogs, so we have outgrown the minivan that served us well for two years. We now travel in a full size van, which comfortably transports us all to the sheepdog events.
October 2008: October is usually a busy month for our working sheepdog demos, and this month is no exception. My demo partner, Mark Soper, and I perform demonstrations at several local festivals, which requires hauling a few sheep and assorted equipment to the site. My truck and trailer handle the job with ease, and perhaps our slogan should be "Have sheep, will travel"!
September 2008: There's more news this month, necessitating an additional September report! A new puppy has joined the pack, and she is an absolute delight! Meg is a half-sister to my Kep, and I am sure that she will be a wonderful addition to the team of working sheepdogs here at Trial & Error Acres. Welcome little Meg!
September 2008: Even though Kep had qualified for the National Nursery Finals, we didn't go, as the event was held in South Dakota. Instead, I opted to go to the North East Border Collie Association (NEBCA) regional Finals in Massachusetts. Well, Kep did a great job at the trial, and he is now the 2008 NEBCA Ranch Champion. Way to go, Kep!
(photo by Jim Allen)
August 2008: Once again, we are experiencing summer drought conditions here, necessitating feeding hay to the sheep, as the available forage is gone. Fortunately, we received enough rainfall in early September to revive the pastures somewhat. However, we will need weekly rainfall for the fields to fully recover, so I hope that it continues throughout the fall.
July 2008: Summer heat and humidity has settled in, and the sheep and the dogs (and the shepherd!) seek out a cool place during the heat of the day. However, even during July, the temperatures can be reasonable enough to allow sheepdog events to be held. I attended one such event this month, a sheepdog training clinic at Keralas Farm in Pennsylvania. The instructor was Kathy Knox, and the clinic was wonderful! Kathy is an outstanding handler, trainer, and educator, and I am sure that everyone left the clinic with a better understanding of working and training sheepdogs.
(photo by Michelle Dobbs)
June 2008: The highlight this month is that there is now water at the farm! After sixteen years of hauling water to the sheep from my home, I decided that it was time to drill a well at the farm. So, I am now able to fill the water troughs using a hose attached to a hydrant at the barn. Wow! Twenty-first century convenience at Trial & Error Acres!
May 2008: The Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival is always the first weekend in May, and the Trial & Error Acres sheepdogs provided the Working Sheepdog Demos at the festival this year. The sheepdog demos are always well received by the festival crowds, and Lark and Kep did a fine job. Kep is shown penning the BFL ewes during one of the demos.
(photo by Teresa Ballard)
April 2008: Spring is here at Trial & Error Acres, and the cycle of life has begun once again. At the farm, the grass is green again and new lambs are arriving almost daily. The ewes are doing their jobs well and lambing is going smoothly. Life is good!
March 2008: The shed that was damaged by the wind last month has been repaired, and below is a photo of the "new and improved" roof. Hopefully, the modified roof design will allow the wind to be deflected up and over the roof, so that replacing the roof will not be necessary in the future.
February 2008: Winter often brings unexpected surprises in this region, and lately we have experienced extremely high winds, which often cause damage and power outages. While we haven't lost power (thankfully!), there certainly was serious damage to one of the open sheep sheds. Below are before and after photos of the shed, and notice that the 6x6 posts across the front of the shed are missing in the after shot. These posts had been "planted" two feet into the ground, but they landed about 50 feet from the shed when the roof left the building.
January 2008: While most sheepdog trials are held during the warmer months, there are some wonderful trials in the Mid-Atlantic area during the winter. Last fall, I purchased a travel trailer to use when attending two day events, and I took it on its maiden voyage this month to the Edgeworth Trial in VA. It was terrific to have my own "accommodations" at the trial, and I look forward to using the camper for many more sheepdog trials to come!
December 2007: The first snow of the season came earlier this month, and I believe that this is the first snow that my new dog Kep has ever experienced. He was fascinated with the fluffy white stuff, and at times he seemed to be trying to figure out exactly what was covering the ground. Kep would occasionally stop playing and actually listen to the snow!
November 2007: This month brings another addition to the team of working sheepdogs at Trial & Error Acres, a handsome young Border Collie named Kep. Kep is nineteen months old, and he is quite advanced in his training for being so young. Kep is settling in here very well, and he will soon be competing with me at the sheepdog trials. Welcome, Kep!
October 2007: Our area has experienced drought conditions once again this year, but the current lack of rainfall has been far worse than in previous years. Despite some beneficial rain this month, the drought conditions still persist in our area. The pastures here are bare and the ponds have become little more than mud holes. Hopefully, we will get sufficient precipitation over the upcoming winter months to replenish the underground and surface aquifer levels.
A local pond showing the lowest water level in years
September 2007: The highlight this month was the National Sheepdog Finals in nearby Gettysburg, PA. This event is the culmination of a year long quest to determine the number one sheepdog in North America. Sheepdogs and their handlers worked together with determination and precision to maneuver the sheep around a very rigorous course. All of the competitors are to be commended for their efforts throughout the year and at the Finals. Congratulations to all!
The winners of the 2007 National Sheepdog Finals
August 2007: There are new additions at Trial & Error Acres...six Katahdin ewe lambs. Katahdins are a breed of hair sheep, and I purchased these little ewes primarily for training my dogs for the sheepdog trials. In this area, most sheepdog trials use hair sheep, so having some to train on at home should surely help.
Katahdin ewe lambs
July 2007: This month, I entered Lark and Scout in two sheepdog trials, at which I moved up them up a level to the Open Ranch class. The Open Ranch course is larger and more challenging, but Scout managed to win the class at the VBCA summer trial. Way to go, Scout!
Photo of Scout at a trial by Mark Billadeau
June 2007: The lambs have been weaned from their mothers this month, and they have adjusted to their new "lifestyle" very well. At Trial & Error Acres, the transition from living with mom to living without mom is done utilizing "fence line weaning" to limit the stress on the lambs. The ewes are moved to a paddock adjoining the field the lambs are in to begin the weaning process, and then after a few days, the ewes are completely separated from the lambs.
Lambs playing "king of the hill"
May 2007: This month began with the Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival, where my duties include announcing the Working Sheepdog demonstrations. My dog, Scout, was used in the demos, and below is a picture of him taken by John Huff, one of the spectators. What a great photo!
Scout in a big hurry!
April 2007: It is lambing season at Trial & Error Acres! The first two weeks of lambing were hectic, but thankfully, things went well. Many more ewes still need to deliver, but there are already numerous little lambs cavorting around the fields. Life is good at Trial & Error Acres!
A shorn ewe with her new lamb
March 2007: The highlight this month is that a new puppy has been added to the sheepdog team at Trial & Error Acres! The new addition is a Border Collie puppy named Kit, and she has acclimated to life here very well. Welcome, little Kit!
Update: Due to unforeseen circumstances, Kit has been sold
Little Kit at 10 weeks
February 2007: Even though farm chores in the winter often take a bit longer than most other times of the year, we (the dogs and I) have taken some time off lately to compete in local sheepdog trials. Both Lark and Scout have done quite well, and the highlight so far has been Scout's first place win at the Long Shot Trial (MD). Lark had finished in second place the weekend before at the Big Bend Trial (VA), and both dogs have additional placings in the top five in their class at several other trials. I am very pleased with the dogs' accomplishments, but we still have a lot of hard work to do to ensure future success at the trials.
A few of our early ribbons
January 2007: Winter has settled in at Trial & Error Acres, and the sheep management chores are a bit more "challenging" because of the winter weather. The flock does well in the winter, so long as they are provided with the proper nutrition. The adults are currently maintained on alfalfa hay alone, while the "nearling" (nearly a yearling) ewe lambs are receiving grain along with their hay. Due to the freezing temperatures, keeping fresh water available for the flock is difficult. However, the winter weather will soon be a memory, and the extra layers of clothing will no longer be required.
Lark with some of the ewe flock
December 2006: Christmas came early here this year, and it came in the form of a black and white dog named Scout. I had been looking for a seasoned trial dog to purchase, and thanks to a suggestion from a friend, I found Scout. It shouldn't take long for us to "get together", and then we will start competing in local trials. This talented dog should allow me to grow in my skills as a sheepdog trainer and handler, and I feel very fortunate to have him. Welcome, Scout!
Scout relaxing in the yard
November 2006: Since I am once again competing with the dogs at sheepdog trials, I need a vehicle that is dependable and allows us all to travel in comfort. I was able to find a nearly new minivan, which we transformed from a "people hauler" into a "dog hauler". The dogs travel comfortably and securely in their crates, and there is plenty of room for all the "stuff" that we need away from home, as well.
October 2006: There is a new canine addition to the family this month, a Border Collie puppy that I have named Drift. This little guy is a delightful pup, and he has settled in here very well. Drift has a charming personality, and he endears himself to everyone he meets. Welcome, little Drift!
Drift at 7 weeks old
September 2006: This month marked the first time that I have exhibited sheep in the show ring! I have yet to show my own sheep, but I was fortunate to be able to assist Kelly Mansfield showing her Bluefaced Leicesters at the Maryland State Fair. This may be the start of a things to come for me!
Nancy at the Maryland State Fair
August 2006: This area of central Maryland has been suffering from serious drought conditions this summer, and the lack of rainfall has created a shortage of forage for the flock. This will necessitate moving the adult ewes to a field across the road from the farm, where there will be grass available to them. However, there was no shelter or shade in this field, so this month's project was to build a 10' x 40' shed for the ewes. Exterior walls will be added on three sides this fall, but for now, allowing the breeze to pass through the shelter is essential.
The summer sheep shelter at the new field
July 2006: Summertime brings heat and humidity, but the lambs are growing well, and the ewes are regaining their pre-lambing condition. The rams are content to be in their bachelor group, peacefully awaiting the upcoming breeding season. Below is a photo of the ewe lambs that will be retained in the flock this year. These lambs are quite nice with good breed type, and they show tremendous improvement over the first lambs produced at Trial & Error Acres in 2001.
2006 Bluefaced Leicester Ewe Lambs
June 2006: The big news this month is that there is a new addition to the family, a Border Collie puppy I've named Dru. Dru will begin training for sheep work when he is a bit older, but until then, he enjoys being a puppy and learning the basics of house manners and everyday commands . He is a very bright pup, and he has already mastered most of what he needs to know to be a well-adjusted companion.
Update: Dru has been sold
Dru at ten weeks old
May 2006: The Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival was a terrific gathering of exhibitors, vendors, and festival-goers! Bluefaced Leicesters were well represented in the show ring, and the BFL Breeds Display booth provided by Trial & Error Acres was awarded the Champion ribbon in the Minor Breeds category! A photo of the BFL booth is below.
The Bluefaced Leicester Breed Display Booth at the MD S & W Festival
April 2006: New lambs are still arriving at the farm, and the earlier lambs are growing bigger each day. While some stay very close to their mothers, others explore and investigate everything around the farm. Watching the lambs frolic about energizes even the most fatigued shepherd, and thankfully, there is a good bit of frolicking going on at the farm!
A Bluefaced Leicester lamb at T & E Acres
March 2006: Lambing has begun at Trial & Error Acres! Starting March 18th, the lambs were arriving in sets of twins, triplets, and even a set of quadruplets! Some days, three or four ewes would deliver, and the lambing jugs were usually kept full! For the most part, things went smoothly with lambing, thanks to those wonderful BFL ewes.
Bluefaced Leicester ewe and her new twins
February 2006: Winter is still making chores at the farm difficult, but the biggest challenge facing me this month was the loss of two wonderful old dogs, Bunks and Mist. These dogs had been devoted working partners for me at the farm, in addition to our competing together at sheepdog trials in their younger days. These two dogs were an integral part of my life, and they were the reason that I acquired sheep over 14 years ago. However, both suffered from chronic kidney problems, and their failing health necessitated allowing them to peacefully leave this world. Roger Caras said, “Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.” These two dogs surely made my life whole. Rest well, old girls.
January 2006: The holidays are over, and winter has settled in making chores at the farm challenging. We did not get much snow this year, but the freezing temperatures made keeping water in a liquid state quite difficult. The flock faired well throughout the winter months, probably because they had a devoted shepherd providing for their needs.
The old barn at Trial & Error Acres in the winter