The Shepherd’s Dog…

From Appletons’ School Reader
Introductory Fourth Reader (page 205)
As published in 1884

The Shepherd’s Dog

  1. The shepherd’s dog is remarkable for its intelligence and sagacity. Far up among the hills, as well as in the green valleys and lowlands, he may be seen guarding and watching his master’s sheep. All over the hills of Cumberland, the mountains of Wales and of Scotland, and in many other parts of the world, thousands of these valuable dogs are to be found. Without them it would be almost impossible to make use of mountain pasture lands.
  2. Not many years ago there lived a Scottish shepherd poet, called James Hogg, who tended his sheep among the green hills and sweetly-flowing streams of the south of Scotland. He had good means of studying the habits of the shepherd’s dog.
  3. He mentions that at one time he had a dog called Sirrah—a very extraordinary animal in managing a flock. One of his exploits was as follows: About seven hundred lambs, which were once under his care, broke away at midnight and scampered off in three divisions across the hills, in spite of all that the shepherd and an assistant lad could do to keep them together.
  4. “Sirrah, my dog,” cried the shepherd, in great distress, “they’re a’ awa’!” The night was so dark that he did not see Sirrah; but the faithful animal had heard his master’s words, and without more ado he silently set off in quest of the runaway flock.
  5. Meanwhile the shepherd and his companion did not fail to do all that was in their power to recover their lost charge. They spent the whole night in searching the hills for miles around; but of neither the lambs nor Sirrah could they obtain any trace.
  6. “It was the most wonderful thing,” says the poet, “that had ever occurred in the life of a shepherd. We had nothing for it (day having dawned) but to return to our master, and inform him that we had lost his whole flock of lambs—that we knew not what had become of one of them!”
  7. “On our way home, however, we discovered some of the lambs at the bottom of a deep hollow, and the faithful Sirrah standing in front of them, looking all around for some relief, but still true to his charge. The sun was then up, and, when we first came within sight of them, we thought that he had as least managed to recover a good number of the lambs.”
  8. “But what was our surprise when we discovered on counting them that not one lamb of the whole flock was wanting! How he had got them all gathered in the dark, I cannot tell. The charge had been left entirely to himself from midnight until the rising of the sun, and, if all the shepherds in the forest had been there to assist him, the work would not have been done so well. I never felt so grateful to any creature under the sun as I did that morning to my honest Sirrah.”
  9. Another strange story told of a shepherd’s dog is as follows: A gentleman sold a large flock of sheep to a dealer, who had not the men to drive them. The seller, however, told him he had a very sensible dog which he could send to assist him to a place about thirty miles off; and that, when he reached the end of his journey, he had only to feed him, and tell him to go home.
  10. The dog soon after got his orders, and set off with the flock and the drover. But he remained absent so many days that his master became very uneasy about him. One morning, however, to his great surprise, he found that the dog had returned with a very large flock of sheep, including the whole of that which he had lately sold!
  11. The fact turned out to be this: The drover had been so pleased with the dog that he had resolved to steal him, and had locked him up until he should be able to leave the country with him. The dog grew sulky, and made various attempts to escape. At last he succeeded; and, strange to say, went at once to the field, gathered the sheep, and drove them all back to his master!
  12. Wonderful, however, as the Scottish shepherd’s dog is, there is a dog in another part of the world more wonderful still, because it is itself the shepherd! In some parts of South America there are sheep dogs which are entrusted with the care of flocks without any master to direct them. They go out with the sheep early in the morning, of their own accord; and they keep beside them all day, driving away the birds of prey that would attack the lambs, and the wild dogs that sometimes came in packs to worry the sheep.
  13. In the evening they bring them home, taking great care by the way that none of the lambs are too tired to keep up with the flock. If they become tired, and begin to lag behind, the dog shepherd will go and fetch them, one by one, carrying them gently in his mouth, until they are safe in the fold.
  14. The means taken to train these dogs to their work are curious. A little pup is brought, before its eyes are open, to a female sheep, and is fed by her several times a day. A wooly nest is made within the sheep pen, and the little stranger is laid within it; so that, when it creeps out, and begins to play, it has no other companions than the lambs of the fold. They thus become its brothers and sisters. As the animal grows up its delight is to be always with them to watch and protect them.
    ***I loved this as soon as I read it in an old primer/reader. What fun to share stories from so long ago!** 

    Hope you enjoyed this little snippet! We love our dogs so much and without our crew of Great Pyrenees dogs, I would never sleep. The bad guys (coyotes) come too close to our farm, but no worries when the Pyrs are on guard… 

    Smooches from the sheep- have a great weekend! 

    Jim & Sandy Ryan
    …where sheep may safely graze.


life is not what I think it should be on the farm. No sheep should ever leave me OR be a senior citizen. (Don’t have it in me to call any of our critter family ‘old’)
Most of you know we had to send our Great Pyrenees Bobbi to the big pasture in the sky recently. We miss her so much. She took wonderful care of our sheep, along with her brother Andrew, for 12 years. That is definitely old age for a Pyr. I am sure she and Andrew are busy busy keeping their old friends in line!

When I lose someone, I barely get time to grieve. I always cry even considering a new dog or even looking at ads for a new dog. BUT, Bobbi would not want her sheep friends unprotected from the ‘bad guys.’ (Coyotes- lots of them.) So I have to get my act together and keep an eye out.
This is our new Pyr Milo. We drove to southern IL to pick him up and he’s having a bit of culture shock. He’s 3 years old and when he met Jim, I turned into the invisible woman.
It was so sweet to see Milo take to Jim so quickly. Aren’t they cute together? I think I’ll keep them both! Ha!
So there was no leaving Milo! We had no intention of leaving with out him anyway.   We were told he was ‘around sheep’ all his life. He had all his vet work current and, he is just gorgeous!
It was a long car ride home and a very difficult, scary time for Milo. I can’t imagine how sad he must have been to be moved from everything he grew up with. And his best friend Moose the Newfoundland.
Milo815pic1fromCLWhen we got Milo home, we found he has some issues. His mouth does not quite fit together so his tongue hangs out. He is adorable but I wish his teeth fit together better. We have to feed him soft food and we’d like to see him gain some weight. He is very timid and we are depending on Heidi Grace to help us train him to stay with the sheep. Houston, we have a fence climber! We will be installing a radio fence this weekend to cure that habit! Stinker!
Every animal who finds us is like a puzzle. Each day we find things out about them that make it easier to ease their worries and teach them what we need them to do. Right now we have to keep this cutie inside when we are not out there to monitor his activities. His hips are not the greatest but in addition to climbing our fences, he has also climbed a tree to get over the fence to visit Henry & Niles? He is very determined! He’s having separation anxiety when Jim is at work so that is what I am working to ease first for Milo. We take walks with the sheep, with Heidi Grace, Teagan and Noodle. The girls are showing him the way and I know that is how Bobbi would want things to be. I don’t think Milo will ever be able to work alone in Bobbi’s group but we’ll see. Until we know, or find a working pair of Pyrs, Dalai Llama and Chaquita llama will be coming back to work in Bobbi’s group of sheep.

Keep an eye out for updates about Milo. I think this adventurer will keep us on our toes! Hope all is well with all of you! We’ll be updating the website this weekend with lots of fun fiber and painted items- keep an eye out ok?

Smooches from everyone!
Sandy and Jim
…where sheep may safely graze.

Can YOUR 130+ pound WHITE dog hide from YOU?

Our Heidi Grace the Great Pyrenees believes she can…..
I see Monroe, I see Heidi’s little toes… 

Now I even see her nose!

Is that a ‘sheepish’ face or WHAT? Actually, when Heidi Grace is not out with her sheep sleeping under the porch steps is her favorite ‘hiding place.’  The cement under them is a nice cool place to sleep on these hot summer days. 

However, here is her usual day time nap space! 

Notice she leaves not one bit of the couch to share with anyone else tired though! Heidi Grace watches over our oldest and special needs sheep at night. She’s a very good girl and does love her naps inside during the day, or if we have storms that include thunder. She’s not really afraid of the thunder, just prefers to be where I am if it gets noisy outside. And of  course I never complain when she wants to be inside with me, even if she does hog the entire couch!

Hope everyone is having a great week- watch for our next post of our new Great Pyrenees Teagan!

Smooches from Miss Heidi Grace!
(Who also wanted to mention we still have sheep who would love to have a sponsor AND we will be updating the website late Friday evening- the 19th. There will be lots and lots of washed, unwashed, carded wool AND our handspun yarn!)

Chat with you very soon!
Jim & Sandy Ryan
…where sheep may safely graze.

Break out your water wings my sheepies!

First let me say, our thoughts go out to all the people in Texas and areas surrounding as they try to deal with the awful weather they’ve had for weeks now. 

We are definitely not in Texas and nothing has happened here that is on the scale of the Texas weather. However, check this out. I was out in the barn with the vet taking care of a sheep. Took about 20 minutes. It poured down rain the entire time we were in there. We call the waterway that naturally runs between the house and barns the River Ryan. You’ve probably heard me talk about it in the past. 

The River Ryan was running when we went inside, but only up to maybe my ankles. When we were done with my sheep and came outside, THIS is what was waiting for us.

We are in a valley- at the bottom of every hill. We joke about the River Ryan. It’s usually just a little stream of water trickling through when it rains. We have drain tile installed to direct the water out to the big pasture.  Once in a while this is what happens.

In 20 minutes our little River Ryan was knee deep and I can see now how people and cars get swept away so easily. I was more than a little afraid to cross that water. There was water coming from all directions around the barns and it even sounded like a river thundering along. The vet parked his truck next to the blue trailer and was still 5 feet or so away from the water. By the time he left, his truck was almost up to its bumpers in the water. I swear it was starting to float but by that time I was so freaked out I am pretty sure I was seeing things. He got on his way just fine, stayed to make sure I did not get stuck or floating off down the river. It was scary.

SO, no playing in the water my sheepies. They are generally not an animal that appreciates water but my sheep think of some pretty silly things to do. Maybe I should build a life guard stand? More rain coming a little later this afternoon so maybe I SHOULD go get their water wings on? And take many pictures of THAT!

Stay safe everyone- watch out for flood waters- safe travels if you have to be out and about!

Jim & Sandy Ryan
…where sheep may safely graze.

Rosie’s Bad Day….

A few weeks ago we had some mega-monster storms rip through our little valley. When Jim went to feed Bobbi (our Great Pyrenees) in the morning, a little red and white Border Collie showed up out of nowhere? We thought we had seen her before but were not sure which neighbor she belonged to?
Well, until we could find out where she belonged, I made up a comfy bed of sleeping bags, put some water and treats out for her- and went back to bed. After all it WAS 4 in the morning.  It did register with me that we had a few more storms roll through but went back to sleep. They were much less severe, just regular old storms.
Well, I think Rosie had a different thought on what a regular old storm is? Holy crap! I couldn’t find her, the glass door on the enclosed porch was still closed so she had to be in the house? Rosie turned up- out from under a pile of fleeces in the fiber palace (aka basement). She picked a good place to shelter from a storm but whoa. She was so sad and embarrassed and I couldn’t find it in me to be mad at her. She was just scared.
I called the number on her tag and the vet said Rosie belonged to our friend and neighbor on the other side of the hill. They were very glad to know Rosie was fine and picked her up later in the day. Bob said Rosie is terrified of storms and will chew through anything, even inside their house, to hide.

Bob was wonderful, replaced the door and did all the work for us. Thank you neighbor Bob! We did need a back door but just hadn’t gotten to that project. We suggested that Bob bring Rosie down the next time it storms. We would love new kitchen cupboards too!  Tee hee hee!

Hope all is well with all of you- the sheep are having fits waiting to get out on the new grass. Just another week peeps! Smooches from the sheep everyone!

Jim & Sandy Ryan
…where sheep may safely graze.

A foot of snow & shearing day!

Wait what??? 
You definitely heard right. Right around our shearing day (April 1) we did indeed receive a bountiful foot of snow. The sheep had lots of wool so many chose to sleep outside. Not in the warm cozy barn. That drives me up the WALL. They looked like piles of snow with eyes and nose peeking out- wish I would have had my camera, watching them stand up was hilarious!

Little Sunshine Shetland sheep decided to skip shearing last year. Sporting 2 years of wool can find oneself unable to get moving in 12 inches of snow. Oopsie! I made a path so she could get out but her twin brother Mario was making fun of her. My stink eye stopped that but I still heard sheep giggling. :o)

Everyone behaved well on shearing day despite Jerome’s frantic attempts to warn the sheep that something was afoot.

We had great helpers- our friends Heidi & Jon Ellefson! Thank you both for making our day so much easier! Look forward to seeing David the Wonder Shearer again next April.

The big haul!

We just finished an update to the sheep’s website, hope you’ll stop on by for a browse! We will update the website again Friday so be sure you keep up with the sheeps!

Hugs and smooches from the sheep!

Jim & Sandy Ryan
…where sheep may safely graze.

Sheepie Spa Day? Whoa!

It was a new experience around here last weekend! During all our years with sheep I never knew there were crews that came in and just trimmed sheep toes? WHAT? That is the biggest job for us now that our son moved out. Feels like most of what we do is trim sheep toes and it’s hard to get other things done. Eek! There is SO much to do here!

Chatted with Therese and decided to give them a try. Her hubby and his crew arrived about 9 in the morning and we had the sheep locked inside awaiting their spa day. It was chilly and I am pretty sure they thought it was shearing day. They were not ready to give up their warm wool yet.

Jeff (hubby) did the toe trims and his crew of 2 held the sheep. We used a sheep hammock to set the sheep down comfortably. Then the trimming began. I gave the sheep their vaccinations, wormed them and then their feet were treated with some good meds to keep them healthy. Jeff and his crew were very patient and kind to the sheep. Avi had a crush on Trevor- she just kept on leaning over and wanted to snuffle his face. Tee hee. I’m not sure he was too happy about it but he was a good sport!

Several of the sheep even took a nap in the sheepie hammock during their appointment? Good sheeps! I loved the fellow holding the sheep’s head. He talked to the sheep, asked each of their names and even sang some songs. (We were getting a little punchy by the end of the day.)

This would be Piper, waiting his turn, giving me the stink eye. He’s usually so easy going but not that day. He told me the girls were telling the boys all week that they would have to wear brightly colored nail polish? I promised them it was not true but sometimes they don’t trust me? Tee hee!

We split the sheep into groups who needed additional treatment (only about 10!) and the rest went back to their regular groups. It was a long day, as long as a shearing day. It was so worth it though. Now we’ll have the crew back in October and things will be much easier for Jim and me. We’ll just be watching out for anyone limping in between appointments with the crew.

This also saves us an amazing amount of time on shearing day! Another benefit! They already have their spring shots and worming, toes trimmed- all we will have to do is put their spot on anti-tick med on after they are sheared. I’ll be curious to see how much faster shearing day goes? Giddy UP!

At one point poor old Bobbi got on the wrong side of the barn door. She gets very worried when strangers are around her sheep. I let her in and she found a comfy spot to have a nap. I adore that dog. She’s so sweet and so dedicated to her sheep.

Hope you are all seeing a glimpse of Spring? We are here but do not trust it yet! We’ll post updates as we find new ways to work with our flock on our own… (our son moved out a few years ago so we are in a new phase here).
Smooches and hugs from the sheep with happy feet!

Jim & Sandy Ryan
…where sheep may safely graze.