OkcPets Magazine July 2023

July / August 2023 • OKC Pets 35 shear the fleece. And the sheep grow the hair back each fall. Although Steagall is not from a farming family or background, she continues to learn about sheep through friends and so- cial media. In addition, prospective buyers find Steagall through social media. They usually buy her sheep for pets on their hobby farms. Thus far, buyers hail from Oklahoma and Texas. From Steagall’s vantage point, sheep are a hobby. She and her husband aspire to own and live on land with the sheep, but for now, they are still in a residential area with the sheep living in a rural area. And Steagall said the sheep sales mostly pay for the sheep and their needs. Good Buddy Riley Fast forward, and now 43-year-old Steagall and six-year-old Riley tend to Steagall’s 28 ewes, 30 lambs, and one ram named Ram Ram. “I named one of the ewes Ornery Mama,” Steagall laughed. “She was the first sheep to run after Riley instead of running away from him.” Steagall said, “Riley is my buddy. When we’re working together, he wants to please me. He’s a really good partner. He lives in our home. I can tell him I need to bathe him or rinse him off, and he goes straight to the bathroom. And Riley and my hus- band are buddies. But if my husband tells Riley to do something, Riley will first look at me.” Dialing it up, Riley and Steagall hit the competition scene. In 2020, they competed in dock diving in Washington, Oklahoma. And they qualified for world champion- ships in dock diving in 2020 and 2021 in Dubuque, Iowa. In 2022, they took a 23- hour road trip to Indian Valley, Idaho, for a herding clinic. At that clinic, Riley and Steagall won the award in the intermediate sheep class, and Steagall snagged a cool rodeo-style belt buckle as a prize. Born and raised in McLoud, Oklahoma, Steagall earned a psychology degree from Oklahoma State University in Stillwater. But she has been a dental assistant since high school graduation, and she maintains that career. Maneuvering around her work hours in the dental office, Steagall and Riley care for the sheep at least once each morn- ing and once each evening, regardless of weather or snow-packed roads. During lambing season, they sometimes care for the sheep three times daily. And Steagall has plenty of lambing stories to tell. “One year, we got big bales of Bermuda and fed the sheep all winter off that while the ewes were making babies,” Steagall said. “It was the all-you-can-eat Bermuda buffet, and the mamas were fat, so their lambs were big.” Steagall recalled when one ewe was giving birth and ran off. “Riley and I cornered the ewe to control the situation. The babies were so big…. Without Riley, I couldn’t have caught the ewes. So Riley and I birthed the lambs.” Steagall said, “We started herding because Riley loves it. But I have grown to love it too. It has inspired me to be the best leader I can be for Riley. I have had to work hard, learning the skills of working sheep with Riley, and I have also had to learn how to stay calm and think under pressure when the sheep run amuck. Riley will stay calm if I stay calm. He will be nervous if I’m nervous. It is the best feeling to do a big farm job, like sorting the lambs from the ewes at weaning time, with just me and my dog!” A Much-Loved Breed Riley is part of a much-loved herding breed. Originating in Scotland, Border Collies need huge amounts of exercise and activities for mind and body. They excel in dog sports. Extremely energetic, they are loyal, responsive, alert, driven, hardwork- ing, highly intelligent, and athletic. They are happiest when working or playing. With strong and agile bodies, the dogs have ready-to-go attitudes and strong instincts. They are sensitive to noise and will alert owners to visitors, passersby, and other movements. Border Collies can be excellent compan- ions for very active households, but they are medium on the scale of friendliness with other household pets and are medium on the shedding spectrum. They will not tolerate boredom or being alone. If Border Collies lack high levels of activity, they will get into all kinds of mischief, includ- ing eating furniture and developing other problematic issues. The life span of Border Collies is 10 to 17 years. They are 18 to 22 inches tall at the shoulder, weigh 28 to 48 pounds, and have a double coat. Katahdin sheep, a domestic breed developed in the later twentieth century, are a cross between selected St. Croix sheep from the Virgin Islands and various other breeds, including the Suffolk breed. Ewes normally weigh between 120 and 160 pounds, and rams weigh 180 to 250 pounds. Their hair can be any color, and they are resistant to parasites. Kim Steagall and Riley take a break while working on Steagall’s Lucky Ewe Sheep Farm in Canadian County. Photo by Carol Mowdy Bond.