Friday, November 30, 2007

Because Coffee Doesn't Grow in Ohio...

For those items that you can't find locally, it's great to find a source for organically-grown options that goes even a step beyond Fair-Trade. Benevolent Blends, run by Cistercian monks in Wisconsin as a way to support themselves, donates a portion of its profits to various charitable organizations.


Walter Jeffries said...

Over on my Sugar Mountain Farm blog on the Boar Out post you asked about how the dogs learn herding.

Part of it is instinct. I watch for this in puppies. Some puppies come out of the womb with the instinct like Coy, Kia, Lili, Kavi, Saturn, etc. Others take time to develop it like Kita and Cinnamon but then are most excellent - late bloomers if you will. A very few never seem to quite get it - those we don't keep but they make fine pets for other families.

Part of it is having other working dogs around who demonstrate the proper behaviors. The higher ranking dogs will snap at a puppy who gets it wrong and a pup that gets it right gets rewarded by being allowed near the leader's face.

Part is working with the dogs a lot, just doing things with them, teaching them a common language so we can communicate. In time they know what I mean when I say "Pigs Out!" (a pig is out and we need to get it back in) vs "Move the Pig" vs various hand signals, etc. Likewise they learn to communicate back to us.

Part is exposure to the livestock. The dogs learn what makes the animals move or not as they want.

Lastly there is active training. This is made easier if you already have all of the above. It is practice and teaching of phrases and techniques so the dogs learn the work.

I mentioned above communication. It is a two way street. The dogs will talk about things and by listening to what they say, both verbally and with body language, you can often understand them. They have different howls, barks and calls for "People here!", "Pig Out!", "Help!", "Mail Call!", etc.

Most dogs I've worked with have it and can develop it with training if they have the opportunity and you have the patience. Herding is really hunting technique sublimated into farming. As my son Ben says, wolves are natural farmers.

Matthew said...

Since we've had some nice exchanges of late, I'm curious as to your thoughts on a question I've posed to other bloggers. I've also asked Mr. Jeffries to participate, and I encourage really anyone that has an opinion on the matter to join the conversation. My question is: "If an event happens, and feel free to define “event” as broadly or narrowly as you see fit, but it is not reported widely, does it have relevance?" and you (and your readers for that matter!) are encouraged to answer here: Question for journalists and bloggers and everyone else. Thanks, Matt from the Daylife Blog