Cymbrian Phoebe Patch. This sweet little pup started yesterday. Looking forward to putting a lot of tracks between her legs. She is a spunky hound that is put together very well.
I have been intending to do a new blog entry for some time but have been busy with one thing or another for quite a while. Between work, the family and the hounds, little time is left for much else.
Our weather has been crazy. We had a fairly nice autumn and I was able to do a good bit of running. Then came rifle deer season and the hounds have to be put up for those 2 weeks. After that it seems as though winter came swiftly. Our temps dropped to the single digits with high winds and today we had snow, then sleet, then freezing rain and finally plain rain. If conditions don't improve, there isn't much point in running the hounds.
While Blair was home for Thanksgiving, we got to do our annual pheasant hunt. The boys had a blast as this is an event they look forward to each year.
After Blair headed back after Thanksgiving, he called and said he had a 96 hour leave the next weekend and was coming back home to deer hunt. We saw a lot of deer and both boys passed on several doe.
Christmas is fast approaching and we will be lucky enough to have everyone here again. Blair has a 2 week leave and hopefully we will get to do some more gunning. Below are some hound pics. Merry Christmas!
( left: Bindi working the line. Center: Taya, a complete hound in all aspects. Right: Gadget on the trail along a dry, dirt road)
I have received quite a few requests asking for some updates and a new blog post. I have been so busy that some things get put on the back burner. Earlier in the summer, I had been running the hounds nightly. The last 3 weeks I have only run sparingly. As many know, I’m not a fan of the heat and humidity and we sure have had a lot of that this summer. It looks like next week will bring some cooler nighttime temps.
My garden has been a challenge this year as well. From fighting the lack of rain, to the critters, the garden has been a struggle. Groundhogs, deer, bugs and rabbits all have bothered my plants this year. My beans have been mowed down three times now. My tomatoes have all had a bite taken out of them and now my cucumbers (which I’ve never had issues with before) have had their vines nipped and now the cucumbers themselves are being nibbled upon. Add to this several varieties of lettuce seed that I grow never came up and one beautiful patch that did come up (inside a fence!) was raided by an angry woodchuck.
The spring pups have gone to their new homes. They were some absolutely gorgeous, energetic little buggers. The time flies when you are taking care of young ones and before you know it, those 8 weeks are gone and the kennel is quiet again.
Many have asked about the boys. I have been told they feel like they know them from my writings. John has spent the summer working in Ocean City, MD. He came home for 2 days at the end of his annual National Guard Drill and then went back to OCMD. This is the first summer since he was 5 that he hasn’t played baseball. He is supposed to be back the end of August.
Blair has been all over the country for his Marine training and is now stationed at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina as part of the combat logistics regiment. He was at Parris Island, SC, Camp Geiger, NC, then Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri and now back at Lejeune. He surprised us with a visit on Memorial Day and then headed back to Missouri after 3 short days. In his travels, he met Trace Adkins at Dulles airport. Many know Trace Adkins as the voice of the Wounded Warrior Project commercials but as anyone who has a Marine knows, he also sings “Arlington” and “Semper Fi” which both mean a lot to us. Blair said they played “Semper Fi” every week after church services and when we were at Family Day at Parris Island, they played an awesome slide show to it. (Semper Fi video)
It has been strange being “empty nesters,” it is SO quiet here and I miss the boys but they are out seeing the country and living their lives. It leaves me with a lot of time to run dogs and do some other things that I haven’t had time to do in the past.
One of my pet peeves is the oversized beagles being produced. According to AKC, a hound over 15” is the only automatic disqualification for a beagle (everything else is just a fault to some degree). Now I have had a few hounds that have gone slightly over but it is something that I am always on guard against. A beagle is not a harrier or a foxhound. The standard is very clear. I have had folks from real snow country (Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine) that prefer the smaller hound that stays on top of the snow. It’s all about the HEART! Also many of these oversize hounds are out of proportion. The necks aren’t long enough to comfortably reach the ground (beagles are scent hounds, not sight hounds). Once a hound goes over the 15” mark, it is tough to keep all other aspects of the hound in the proper ratio. Legs and elbows, shoulders, spine, head and ears get out of whack on these oversize hounds. A beagle is a compact hound that should look like a beagle, not a pony with flop ears.
The paper breeding and looking only at certain traits (e.g. color) and not evaluating the entire hound will lead folks into trouble. Indiscriminate breeding will leave many with health issues down the line or faulty hounds that aren’t worthy of carrying on the legacy. The standard was written by very knowledgeable houndsmen and every part of the conformation standard has a practical application to the hunting hound. Stamina, durability and efficiency all play into the conformation of a well put-together beagle. They all also play into the longevity of the hunting hound.
As a critical observer, the most common fault that I see, without a doubt, is faulty feet. So many hounds have splayed, long toes. In the field, a widespread liability is swinging and blindly charging the front. Again we are talking efficiency in running a rabbit, and many hounds cannot circle a rabbit on their own. Take the pack away from a hound and you will see what you really have. I haven’t bred the perfect hound yet, but that is what I’m striving for.
Lastly, I see some people on the internet claiming “Patch this” or “Patch that” but then they exclaim that their hounds swing and skirt, run trash, go over 15” or have other faults (physical or running) that would never have been perpetuated by Willet, Mike or myself. If you are promoting hounds that are direct opposite to what the Original, AKC Registered kennel stands for and has always stood for, why are you claiming the Patch name on your hounds? Just because your hound carries in his/her ancestry hounds named “Patch”, does not make the hound worthy to be bred.
Been extremely busy! Too much to do, not enough time in a day! I have several blog posts ready to go, just have to put some finishing touches to them.
Below are our 2 keepers from our fall litter. Bindi, on the left, is a sweet, sweet little hound. She reminds me of her grandmother Eunice, hopefully she will turn into the hound that Eunice was. On the right is Maury (Maurice). He is one of the most athletic hounds we have ever bred. It appears that he is barely moving but he sure can cover some ground. He is very fluid. I watched him clear a 3 foot ditch by 2 feet on each side, not missing a stride. Very pleased with both of these pups so far.
It constantly amazes me how many people this website reaches. I have said before that many of Mike's acquaintances have reached out to me over the years and expressed their admiration and respect for him. Less frequently I get a comment from someone who wants to share a story of an encounter with Willet, some of these are rather entertaining (Uncle Vic).
Back in October I received an email from a name I did not recognize. I opened the email and a smile instantly appeared on my face. The gentleman relayed to me that his grandfather was a friend of Willet and and was mentioned in Wilderness Patchwork.
He told me of the 2 half breed Indians, Injun Jim and Injun George and George was his grandfather. He told me of his grandfather's "... HARD life in the brutal upstate weather but [George] lived a life most of can only dream of. He was a hunter, trapper and guide his whole life. Running dogs with Willet was a special time for him." George " lived in Indian Lake for most of his life had four daughters which my mother was the third. My mother left Indian Lake after graduation headed for Washington DC where she met my father and traveled the world. Here we are many years later and she is living down in Middle Georgia. George moved down here for the last few years and passed away at 88 in 1992."
"I have lived all over the world and may be considered a Georgia boy now but every time I am in the Adirondacks I feel a certain kinship. Some of the most beautiful sights in America are there. I have several other pictures of the area up there and wildlife that my grandfather had, Deer, Lynx, Raccoons . To me they are the most fascinating scenes since most were taken in the 30’s and 40’s. Sometimes I get nostalgic about my grandfather and that had me browsing through Willets book where several of those photos were crammed.
I appreciate your interest, I have never hunted with dogs but have a love for them. I do realize the magnitude of Willet and the Patch legacy. It is great that Willets’ envisioned lineage is still going through you.
Please let me know if you are ever down this way"
According to Gary, the photo in Wilderness Patchwork says it is Injun Jim, it is actually his grandfather George.
As we approach the Holiday Season and the close of 2015, we have much to be thankful for. It has been a very good year for us on many fronts.
Our youngest son Blair has left for Marine Boot Camp. Although this has been tough on his mother and me, Blair has wanted to be a Marine since he was about age 10 or so. His journey to become a Marine has begun and we pray for him daily.
Two days before leaving, Blair was able to connect on a nice 7 point buck. He spent a lot of time on stand during archery and passed on a few smaller buck. He is a very good deer hunter and things could not have worked out better.
The boys and I enjoyed our annual pheasant hunt. We got to hunt over some awesome Brittanies and enjoyed the day tremendously.
The weather has been unusual to say the least. We are expected to reach the mid 60's today. Everyone thinks I'm crazy, but I would really like some snow and more seasonal temperatures. I'm sure I'll get my wish soon enough. It has been some outstanding running so I'm grateful for that.
Indiana County, PA is noted as the Christmas Tree Capital of the World, partly because the Christmas Tree Growers Association was founded there. In 1918, Christmas Trees were grown as a "crop" and by 1956, 700,000 trees were cut annually. Currently, other locales may produce more trees but Indiana County still claims the title.
As a beagle man, this is a wonderful thing. Most farms still hold plenty of rabbits although some farms cut everything in between and leave nothing for the bunnies. I am lucky enough to have permission to run on one of the largest growers of blue spruce in the area.
We have been hot and dry so running is limited to early morning. I've been getting out around daybreak and by 8 AM, its already too hot and the dew has disappeared. According to the weather reports, things are about to change and for me, its not soon enough!
Much has been happening here and the summer started very hectic. Our weather has not been the best either, lots of rain and then heat and humidity.
Pups have went to their new homes, I wish many years of luck to their new owners and hope they get as much enjoyment from them as I get from the hounds. The “beagle time” is very necessary in order for me to keep my sanity.
John finished up his final year of Legion baseball. I have to give him credit, he is working full-time, has his National Guard duties, made the Dean’s list and still made time for baseball.
Blair graduated high school in June and has been keeping himself busy. He has weekly rifle matches and also his weekly Marine “poolee” workouts. He is still scheduled to leave in December and that’s ok with him as he will get one more PA deer season.
I alluded to some things going on in the patch world in a previous blog post and I will now elaborate. I get calls and emails almost on a daily basis keeping me up to date on some of the foolishness that goes on. I am grateful to those that keep me informed. I am hearing of multiple litters being pumped out from folks who are trying to make a buck or as they say “to fill a need out there.” They are breeding hounds just because they have patch lineage and the market is there for them to sell their pups. I was told of a man breeding and selling an entire litter just because the demand is there. Not because he needed a pup, or the parents were outstanding hounds, but because he can turn a buck. In another case, a Yorkshire terrier breeder put the following on his website:
We are starting a new line of another hard to find beagle. Lemon and white patch . We have 2 boys left for sale now at $650 each They come from a long line of champion beagles and will come with a 3rd generation certificate and shot and worming records
(by the way, they are only CKC registered)
There are hounds put on the market without papers labeled as Patch and hounds being bred that the breeders have no clue as to what they are putting together other than the names on the page all say patch. Also many only breed for color. I get calls on pups from Annaka, who is lemon and white, and people are only interested in her because of the color of her hide. They rarely ask about her ability. All that matters is the look. (It’s also amazing how many requests I get for females.) I’ve said it before but look at Willet’s hounds, they weren’t all lemon and white and look very different from what the peddlers are putting up for sale. I see on the American Beagler website a certain person that is continually attempting to pawn off his patch puppy mill pups. He shepherds people in to his puppy milling scheme. I also understand there is a Patch facebook group as well. They may have an occasional good hound, but they are not a Patch Hound, they have patch bloodlines but should not carry the name as they did not originate from the Patch Kennel and are removed by 7-8 or more generations from the Patch Kennel. If you made the cross, you decided to put ol’ Rover with ol’ Susie, put your own name on them and be proud of them. Don’t ride the name of another’s kennel just to sell your pups for more money or to sell them quicker. I wish people would show some respect, not only to me, but for Willet and Mike. Is it a cross that Willet would make? Or Mike? Or myself? I’ve heard all the excuses: to honor Willet, to show their heritage etc.. Sorry, that is just not right. Even if your pedigrees are stacked with hounds named “patch” on top and bottom, it is not a Patch hound. Believe me, some of these hounds do not honor Willet. Our breeding decisions are made on sound, time-tested principles, not on a pedigree.
I was contacted in early spring by a man interested in some patch history and he told me “he was just getting into them.” His questions obviously revealed his lack of knowledge but now some whopping 5 months later, he is an expert and breeding someone else’s culls and showing them off as Patch and some are buying them up thinking they are getting a Patch hound. Again, is it a hound Willet would breed? Just because two hounds will breed, doesn’t mean they should be bred.
Another issue that gets under my skin is the demand for hounds that trash. I have had folks contact me looking for hounds for deer and coyotes. Here is my take on this: the TRUE Patch hound was bred for rabbit, nothing else. Here in the northeast, where the strain originated, if your hounds take a deer, be prepared to lose your hound. It will either: get shot by a deer hunter, get lost and killed by coyotes, or get run over on a highway. Also the wardens may fine you for allowing a big game chase. Same with the northeast coyotes, if you’re lucky enough to have a coyote run from your beagle, a car will eventually get them. Most of the coyotes (or “brush-wolf”) will make a quick kill on your hound, folks with Walkers have had run-ins with yotes here. I know of several houndsmen that have lost hounds to coyote attacks and many more that have had a close call. Maybe the coyotes down south or the ones in a pen are not as deadly but that is still trash. (See link: Northeast coyotes have wolf genes ). These people who want these trash runners still want to call them “Patch Hounds.” That is not what Willet and Mike strove for. (I can actually tell you what happened to Willet’s and Mike’s trashrunners, but that’s another story all together.) If you want to run your beagles on deer / coyote, by all means, go for it, but do not represent them as Patch, Patch Hounds were not bred for trash running! I am very grateful that I have had many hounds that were naturally trash-proof, the work (selective breeding) was done before me.
Below is an internet quote from a well regarded houndsmen:
“There are several guys that breed “patch” hounds. I know of a couple that really put the time and effort in to cull / selective breed and I know of a few that breed patch to patch to get more patch, and who cares how they run, the pedigree says Patch…
“Chris and Ron Sadler would be the two guys I think of when I think about people carrying on the Patch line.”
This is from a man whom I never met and never got a hound from me and is not a “patch guy” but it is indeed humbling and an honor. I know that there are a few more that have the hound’s best interests at the forefront but we are being outnumbered by the peddlers. It doesn’t help that the patch-peddlers appear to be the mouthy, incessant posters on the net as well. Some of the videos are down-right embarrassing but the owner’s describe it as “good houndwork.”
Also some folks think that a Patch hound is a breed. It is unbelievable how many times I have heard ‘the greatest breed of hounds= The Patch’. THEY ARE BEAGLES!!! THE BREED IS BEAGLE, the line or strain is Patch. One of the greatest things that I got from Mike was the collection of pedigrees from Beaver Meadow days to the present. I have spent hours upon hours studying these peds. Willet and Mike did not care how many hounds carried the patch name in the pedigree or if the hound originated in their kennel. They cared about the hounds and their ability. Some of these folks should read Willet’s breeding notes.
Sorry for the ramble….. below are some hound pics !
Link to an article by PA's Bob Ford. Very humorous...