Gifts from McCall

The Birds and the Bees

Our bees arrived!  Robert has been an apiary enthusiast since seventh grade so he is beyond thrilled to finally have a hive going.  We checked on them yesterday and it’s amazing how much work they’ve been able to do in a span of a few short days.  We had to tear out their honeycomb because they were building it perpendicular to the frames — we hoped they would free build their honeycomb (to make for easier harvesting) but they might need a little direction from us with regards to how they hang their sweets.  Hosting them here on our little farm is a dream come true.  And since some of you demanded baby critter photographs, here are a few of those, to boot!  Though, as you can see, everything is growing up pretty quickly around here.

I thought I would include a picture of Tater Tot with the turkey-lurkeys for you.  This is the first time I let them out in the yard to free range and so it was Tater’s first encounter with them.  Some of you have asked about how we deal with bird dogs who come from really strong hunting bloodlines (which is to say they have an immense predator prey drive) and free ranging birds in the yard.  I do have a couple of thoughts to share on the topic.

Tater Tot is now 5 years old. If I didn’t have complete control of him in situations like this it would be a total failure on my part with regards to basic obedience training and establishing general pack order with my dogs.  If you don’t want your dogs to kill your yard birds, if you want them to come when you call, if you want them to abide by the rules you have set for them, you need to have some basic obedience training in place, but to be honest, the more obedience work you are able to do on a regular basis, the better.  Dogs come from wolves!  They thrive on a sense of place within their pack.  Obedience training is one of the best ways to build bonds with your pup as well as give them that sense of place that will help them to feel and behave like secure individuals.

I always say, if you have a dog that is acting up you can almost always solve the issues by exercising it more (go beyond the off-leash, downtown dog park) and working with it more (obedience training).  These things benefit you, too.  My dogs get me outside every single day and engaging with them, asking them to work for me and along side me has made our relationships rich and sacred.

As I said, we’ve had Tater Tot for 5 years but I do yard training with him on a regular basis because he needs it.  He has a very strong and stubborn personality paired with completely insane hunting drive.  He needs a tune up every single day.  To give him a tune up I simply dedicate time every day wherein we get to focus on each other.  If I am running, I heel him while I run (though we run on single track or two track on public lands where he can run free and wild).  While we travel together like that, I practice casting him off, recalling him, woahing him and running past him a full 1/4 mile before releasing him from his woah command, etc.  If he is being rotten to the cats or to the other dogs, instead of trying to reason with him like some folks do with their dogs (???), I take him straight outside and I challenge his mind with some obedience training.  I can turn his attitude around in a couple of minutes by simply refreshing his sense of pack order and pushing his mind a little.

I can’t yet trust him with the turkeys, but soon he’ll ignore them when he’s sharing the yard with them.  In the meanwhile, I sit with him while the turkeys range within his reach, I speak to him and let him know I am watching him.  I request a little self-control from him and he does a great job.  He completely ignores the ducks unless he is with me while I am herding them into their pen in the evening.  Then he’ll actually help me herd them a little bit, with the aid of voice commands from me.  He’s such a smart little pup.

Farley ignores all the new critters while Penelope is curious about them and wants to give them all the flea nibbles…which looks a little like she is tasting them so I have to tell her to be gentle.

As you can see, the duckos have grown amazingly quickly.  They have many of their adult feathers and they discovered the trout pond yesterday and to say they are thrilled with their swimming space would be a total understatement.  They add so much to the immediate yard here.  I am glad for their company.

This week, I’ll be busting my own chops trying to get the gardens in.  Wish me luck!  I’d like to have all my seeds in the ground by the weekend and since it’s still very cool at night, tomatoes, et al, can wait another week…and they have to wait another week, anyway, as I’ll be off on another shoot shortly!  I’m doing my best to roll out of bed at 6AM here, every morning, there’s so much to do.  And when I lay down to sleep at night, I sleep like a rock.  It’s delicious.  And simple.  And I like it.


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A new batch of “Basin and Range Rings” with landscape jaspers and sterling silver, baptized in sagebrush in the holy of holies I call home.

Thank God for the work of my hands.  I have been traveling so much over the past two months that I have suffered a sense of total discombobulation.  Sitting down to work in my studio is one of the things that stitches my spirit to my bones.  I am currently slated for 2 full weeks of studio work!  Let’s see what I can create in that time frame before I hit the road again.

I’m planning on listing these rings in my shop on Friday at 8PM (mountain time).

UPDATE: I had to postpone this shop update due to WIFI failure.  These rings will be listed in my shop on May 8 at 8PM (Mountain Time Zone).

7I9A3728 7I9A3740 7I9A3749 7I9A3755 7I9A37717I9A37837I9A3895 7I9A3905 7I9A3926 7I9A3947 7I9A3952 7I9A3954 7I9A3959 7I9A3968 7I9A3978 7I9A3980 7I9A3999 7I9A4003Sheep season arrived on the Snake River about one month ago.  Watching the shepherds, sheep dogs and Pyrenees dogs work the flocks up and down the mesas is a sight to behold.  I cannot express how much respect and admiration I have for working dogs.  They have incredible instincts.  Sometimes I wonder about who founded working dog breeds.  Do you ever wonder about that?  For example, who the heck decided to selectively breed the dachshund — a ferocious, weasel-shaped dog with great scenting capability for badger hunting?  I know I could google the answer to this question but sometimes I prefer to let my imagination go a little wild.  This is to say, I think all dogs are wonderful and mutts are marvelous and adopting homeless animals is noble and beautiful but there’s also something to be said for being partnered with a specific working breed.  The working dog breeds are made of magic stuff!  They have the instincts and skills to do a certain job in partnership with humans and they do that job well and with passion.  They don’t quit.  It’s inspiring to watch.

Springtime is sighing all along the river these days.  I’ve been traveling for work for a couple weeks and while the photography gigs have been great and challenging, I have lightly regretted being away from the farm while things are blooming and our critters are growing.  You’re not going to believe how gigantic the ducks have become.  One of our little turkeys has started to display and prance about the turkey brooder (it’s so macho).  The kittens are getting rambunctious.  And while everything has been growing and blooming, we’ve had some tremendous visits with friends, dinners with neighbors and marvelous sunsets on the tails of stormy squalls.  What a beautiful time of year.

I hope it’s gorgeous where you are.