2017 Naming Contest

Everyone who suggests a name in the comment section will be entered into a random draw for a bar of goat milk soap.

Sire is Blunderosa Country Thunder and the dam is Blunderosa Just Charmin’

Kid #1 is a buckling (ignore the bit of beard from the doe)

Kid #1

Kid #2 is a doeling

Kid #2

Since I bought the doe bred, the breeder’s herd name and not mine will be used , so the names will start with “Blunderosa”.

Use the comments for your suggested names. The random draw will be done September 30th.


Farm Dog 101: Place Command – Part One

A Place command is incredibly useful. Put simply, a place command involves teaching a dog to travel to a specific spot (I like using bathmats as mats are portable and easy to travel with) and then to remain in that spot until released. It is easier for most people to teach than a solid stay because the dog isn’t required to remain in either a sit or a down, but as long as the dog remains in that spot, can sit, down, stand, turn around. . .you get the picture.

So in keeping with my resolution to actually start training Fix, I decided a Place command would be a good addition to his education.

Fix practicing a Place on an elevated dog bed


This exercise consists of training two separate exercises and then combining the two into a single exercise.

The first part involves teaching the dog to remain in a designated spot until released. The second part involves teaching the dog to travel to the designated spot.

In training this exercises, as with all exercises, the Four D’s of Training are employed. These are:

  1. Duration
  2. Distance
  3. Distraction
  4. Difficulty

Remember, you want to build on success, so your goal in training is to set your dog up to succeed, not fail. Be sure your dog understands what is required before making the task more difficult.

To begin, you need a RELEASE word. This is a word which you will consistently use to let your dog know it is free to do something different. For example, in this case, once you have told your dog to “place” your dog should not move from that location until you have given permission; i.e., a Release. It is important that you use this word to release your dog following every command. A Release word is not the same as praise. Praise should be given while your dog is performing the action (sit, down, etc.) so that you are praising the action and not the dog’s behavior after completion of the action. A Release word simply means your dog has your permission to do something else and should not be followed with praise.


I don’t usually

stray from farm topics on this blog. However, yesterday evening Fix and I spent an enjoyable hour or so with friends at a relatively new brewpub in Albuquerque – Hops Brewery.  It is on Central in the Nob Hill district and has an outdoor patio which is dog friendly (Fix gives it a paws up.)

The brewmaster is a friend and he has done a fantastic job with the beers he brews on site. I can highly recommend the Tipsy Cow (a milk stout) and one called Warm Scottish Nights. My friend was highly complementary of the Honey Wheat she had.

I wasn’t thinking ahead so no picture of Fix hanging out on the patio, but I’m sure we will be back in the future.

So if you like GOOD beer (and the food is pretty good too) I would suggest dropping in at Hops Brewery.

New Arrivals

When I returned from vacation in May, Fix and I traveled to Tularosa to pick up a doe in milk. We ended up coming back with that doe plus two more does that had been exposed to bucks.

I have been waiting to see if either doe had indeed been bred and about three weeks ago one doe began to bag up. This afternoon when I went out to check on her, I found two very small kids under the new shelter. A trip to the barn netted alfalfa for the hay net and wheat hay for bedding. After setting up the kidding jugs, I moved the two new arrivals and the doe to their new, temporary, surroundings.

The kid in front is a doeling – just shy of two lbs – and the kid behind her is a buckling who weighed in at 2.5 lbs. And of course they elected to move to one of the stalls I had not bedded down.

Better pictures to follow. And these will need names. The sire is Blunderosa Country Thunder and the dam is Blunderosa Just Charmin’.  I’ll put up more photos and a naming contest in the next couple of days.

Year of the Snake

The last Year of The Snake was February 10, 2013 through January 30, 2014 and it won’t come around again until January 2025. You couldn’t prove that by me however.

In an earlier post I mentioned that in the not quite ten years I have lived here, I had only seen nine snakes on the property and two of those were just recently.

The dogs and I went out just before dusk tonight to turn on the heat lamp and move the chicks into the brooder for the night. After that was completed I walked around the front of the chicken coop to close the pop hatch to the main chicken coop and heard an unmistakable rattle. I called the dogs and retreated to the house where I left the dogs inside before returning to the chicken coop.

Sure enough there was a seriously p**d off rattlesnake, this one caught in the chicken wire of what I think might have been a rabbit hutch placed next to the chicken coop. The chicken coop itself is built with hardware cloth which makes it predator proof but the outside run to the coop and this small structure were built using chicken wire. It appears this snake went into the hutch and then was unable to exit — possibly due to eating whatever it went in after. At a guesstimate, this snake is a little over 2 feet in length.  If you look carefully, you can see the head. The tail might be a little blurry because the snake was agitated and rattling like crazy. Again, since I won’t try to disentangle it, with luck it will be able to get out on its own; otherwise, there will be another dead rattlesnake in the morning.



























This snake brings my total up to ten, three just in the past few weeks.  I’m wondering if the brush hogging I had done a short while ago has moved the rattlers closer in to the structures. I may never know exactly why I am seeing more snakes, but I do know I am going to be taking more precautions when I work outside in the future.

Continuing Saga of Tree

The beginning of July a tree crashed into the horse corral. See post here.

While a friend came over early the next morning to remove the crown so I could get the horse out of the corral, because there was a bee hive in the tree, he couldn’t cut up the big pieces of trunk until I dealt with the bee hive. At the time he left the plan was for me to take care of the hive and he would return the next week to finish the tree removal. I was unsuccessful in finding anyone willing to remove the hive and so had to resort to killing the bees. Not my first choice but I needed to get the horse back into her corral. As it turned out, my friend’s schedule prevented him from returning. After the horse tried to jump out of the (former) sheep pen – now rebuilt – into the goat pen, mangling the cattle panel and injuring herself in the process, I went ahead and put her back in her corral where she has been co-existing with a large tree.

Yesterday in the late afternoon, the friends who had assisted with the bees returned with a chainsaw and removed the trunk up to the fence. At that point, the chainsaw quit and we decided it was good enough for the time being. It has certainly made a difference in the appearance of the corral – I had forgotten how large the corral really is.

Taming the wild tree

The heartwood of the cottonwood had rotted out, as is common in the species. This allowed access for the bees and while we found the center of the trunk full of dark, rich “compost” when we got to the section where the bees had resided, that was mixed with honey comb and honey. I had been toying with the idea of trashing my shoes — traipsing through the sticky mess left by the tree removal cemented that idea. I figured it wasn’t worth even trying to clean the shoes.

Hopefully sometime in the next couple of months the rest of the tree will be removed and I can find someone to repair the fence.

Hollow cores

Remnants of honey comb and honey

Fall Flowers – Addendum

The previous owners had sown sunflowers in the area in front of the house. Since I haven’t been willing to use herbicides, my weed control is limited to pulling weeds by hand. I had thought I had pulled all the sunflowers before they seeded the first year I was here, and indeed, in the next couple of years I had a couple of sunflower plants but certainly not many. Over the years, the number of sunflowers have waxed and waned. This year though I have more sunflowers – and in places they have never been before – than I have ever seen. This photo doesn’t truly show the enormity of the situation.

Internet research suggests that livestock will eat the entire stalk, not just the head, so I plan on starting to pull sunflowers to feed to the remaining sheep and the goats.

A walk down the drive with the dogs the other day showed several different wildflowers in a wide array of delicate colors but unfortunately when I walked down again intending to take photographs, they had already disappeared, to be replaced with purple tansyleaf tansyasters. The closest I could come to my location was ten miles south and it appears the flowers blooming were those I had last week. Blooms are generally very transient in my part of the world so it is a matter of blink and you miss them.

ADDENDUM: So I took the dogs down the drive earlier this morning looking for wildflowers that I saw last week and did find some still blooming in a different area (as well as a “bush” that just exploded into color this morning). Photos are from the phone so not the best . . .

Farm Dog 101: Paper Plate Recall

Fix turned 24 weeks (6 months) old today. He still hasn’t outgrown the fuglies, but I am seeing some glimmers of the handsome dog he will be.

Fix at 24 weeks


Despite other Farm Dog 101 posts where I state I am going to start formal training with Fix, I have to admit that has not happened. His training to date has been just day to day interactions and doing chores.

So this evening, I decided it was way past time to get serious about training and I dusted off an exercise I used to teach to students in my beginning obedience classes – the Paper Plate Recall. This is an exercise I learned from a colleague, now sadly deceased, Dick Russell from Baton Rouge, LA. Rather than type it out here, I am providing a link to the exercise explained on another colleague’s blog: Paper Plate Recall.

So after chores, I put a leash on Fix, found a suitable plastic lid and put a few treats in my pocket. While Fix does know “sit’, I have not taught him a “stay” so he is a novice dog and a great example of the “magic” of this exercise. We started at 3 feet from the lid and finished, about 10 minutes later, approximately 60 feet away with Fix holding a stay while I walked away from him to put the treat on the lid and then while I walked back to him. Click on photos to enlarge.

Lid in foreground and Fix on Stay about 60 feet away.

After I walked back to Fix, I sent him to the plastic lid

Fix at the treat




Fix returning on a “come” command

Almost back

Chick Update

The chicks were two weeks old on Labor Day. I lost two of the chicks — one shortly after arrival for an unknown reason and one last Friday when I was late closing the chicks in the brooder and it was separated from the others and froze.

While everything I have read states that chicks have to be kept at about 95 degrees for the first week, with a drop in temperature of 5 degrees for each subsequent week, until fully feathered, I have not found this to be completely accurate. Chicks, indeed, cannot regulate their body temperatures well and do require attention to environmental temperatures – up to a point.

These chicks were kept in an enclosed brooder under a heat lamp for the first week. After that initial period, during the day I removed the cardboard which blocked their access into the larger (about 4×4) section of the coop, and allowed them to leave the brooder. I also turned off the heat lamp during the day. The chicks have been fine running around their limited space without an additional heat source. I do need, however, to put them back in a sheltered place (the brooder) with a heat lamp at night still.

On occasions when I have not secured the chicks before dark, I have gone out to find the chicks outside of the brooder but in piles (usually two separate piles) with the smaller bantams in the middle of the piles, and have had to pick up each chick to place it in the brooder for the night. With that one exception, all of the chicks – full size and bantam – have been fine. I wouldn’t want to chance that the chicks would all survive the night at this point without the heat lamp but it is clear that the high temperatures the internet and books tell you are required, really aren’t. I think common sense goes a long way in raising poultry and animals in a specific environment – i.e., what I can do here in New Mexico probably won’t be as successful in Vermont and vice versa.

Mix of full size and bantam chicks at 2 weeks, 3 days

Full size chick next to Red Frizzle bantam chick