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Kendrah & Hal

Our border collie, Hal, has amazing instincts.  He lives to herd anything.  Cattle, sheep, cars, children… he’s not picky. 

This afternoon I was washing the dishes and looking out my window at the amazing view of our pastures, fields, and neighboring farmland.  As I stood there scrubbing fried egg off of a skillet my mind wandered to who knows where.  My thoughts were interrupted by the sound of a 4-wheeler and barking.

I focused in on where the noise was coming from and quickly realized Hal was trying his best to help my brother-in-law herd the cattle.  Unfortunately, my brother-in-law wasn’t try to herd the cattle.  He was trying to move them from one pasture to another.  Hal wouldn’t allow it.  His instincts told him to keep those cattle right where they were.

I giggled to myself, because it was quite a funny site.  Then I felt guilty, because I’m sure my brother-in-law saw no humor in this situation at all.  I grabbed Hal’s leash and figured I would at least try to remove Hal from the situation.  I hiked out into the pasture, down our big sledding hill, and up to Hal, the cattle, my brother-in-law, and Andy, an employee.  Hal paid no attention to me, he had work to do.

I had seen Hal follow our 4-wheelers many times, so suggested that Andy drive his 4-wheeler up towards our house.  Andy slowly moved up the hill with me walking beside him.  It worked!  Hal ran along behind the 4-wheeler.  Whew!  The cattle were moved onto fresh grass and the work day continued. 

It looks like we may have one more job this summer… training Hal.

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May I whine?  If you don’t like complaining, you might want to tune out before you read any further…

Don’t get me wrong.  I love to run, but today’s run was tough.  My run started out like most other days.  I have been running in snowshoes this winter in our pasture to avoid our icy country roads and the dangers that come with it.  I pulled on my snowpants, hat, and gloves; secured the velcro on my facemask; and snapped on my snowshoes.  Out the door I went, over the electric fence and into the pasture covered by a fresh blanket of snow.

Every time we get a fresh snow I need to establish a new path.  Running in 6 inches of snow is more difficult than it may sound.  If you’ve ever run with weights on your ankles, it’s kind of like that, except 10 times harder!  Today I just didn’t feel like blazing a new trail, but had no choice.  As I ran I tried to fill my mind with positive thoughts, but the whining kept creeping in.

Here’s kind of how my inner dialogue sounded:

This fresh air feels good… The wind is freezing my face   My legs are getting stronger… These hills are way too steep  The snow is sparkling like diamonds… This snow is way too deep

As I ran, my snowshoes started to feel really heavy.  I looked back to find my running partner, Hal, running on the backs of my snowshoes.  “Hal, use your own four feet”, I hollered.  Hal, of course, is our 8-month-old border collie.  He loves to run and doesn’t need any help from my snowshoes.

Finally, I found myself climbing the last hill to our backyard.  I made it!  Not every workout is fun.  I find myself breaking my workouts into percentages of pleasure and pain.  Today was definitely heavy on the pain and light on the pleasure, but I know I will be back at it tomorrow.

Our new puppy, Hal.

After our first puppy ten years ago, I swore I would never allow the kids to get another puppy.  Our dog, Meredith, chewed everything!  Bike seats, toys, boots, Christmas lights, everything.  Eventually she mellowed into a wonderful dog.  Whereever the kids are is where Meredith is.  She only goes to the farm, which is 1/4 mile away, when the kids are over there working.  She used to sprint back and forth to the farm multiple times a day.  In recent years her run has turned into a labored walk.  She used to go for three mile runs with me.  Now she waits for my return at the end of the driveway.

Knowing Meredith is aging quickly got us thinking about another dog.  “A dog”, I said, “NOT a puppy.”  When we were on vacation in July, Brandon’s brother called him and asked if we wanted a puppy.  He was making a farm delivery and the customer had puppies and he needed a decision right then and there.  Brandon said “yes” and we came home to a 6-week-old border collie.

The first thing we did was went and bought the usual supplies.  Collar, food, kennel, Puppies for Dummies book, the usual.  And then we needed to decide on a name.  My one requirement was that the name needed to be one syllable.  Having “Meredith” for ten years has taught me one thing anyway.  The kids started throwing out the typical dog names.  Spot… no, Rover… no, Fido… no, Boots… no, Hal… hey, there’s a name.  Hal, I like that.  Hal it is.  So Hal has joined our family.

The first night Hal cried all night in our garage and I couldn’t find Meredith the next morning.   Meredith normally sleeps in our garage.  I finally found Meredith sleeping in our culvert.  The noise must have driven her out of the garage.  Meredith is slowly warming up to Hal. 

Hal is full of energy with a herding instinct that won’t quit.  He tried to help the kids walk their fair pigs, he tries to help with the cattle, and he even herds the kids themselves.  Hal also likes to jump and chew and run.  If I start getting frustrated with him, all he needs to do is look at me with those big brown eyes, and I smile.  I didn’t think we needed a puppy… what did I know.

We are back from vacation and counting down to our County Fair.  We took the Amtrak train out to Glacier National Park for vacation.  The scenery was breathtaking and  I would highly suggest it for any family.  My daughters ran across a mama moose with her baby on a trail, we had a snowball fight on top of a mountain, and the boys skipped rocks on a crystal-clear lake.  It was the perfect mix of relaxation and activity for me.

While on vacation my brother-in-law called asking if we wanted a puppy.  We had been considering getting a puppy, hoping our older dog would help train a new puppy.  So, we came home to an adorable black and white border collie that we named Hal.  He is full of energy and is already showing his herding instincts towards the cattle, pigs, and kids.

We also came home knowing that there are only a couple weeks left before the Goodhue County Fair.  The 4-H building projects are mosting complete.  My dad helped Max build a gun rack earlier this week.  My dad has a lot of woodworking tools, so he is a great help.  We are walking the pigs twice a day now.  It’s amazing how quickly they learn the routine.  The kids are also walking and grooming the cattle daily.  Our fair starts August 10th, eleven days to go…