Friday, July 12, 2013

Joan Mason, Artist

The proprietor of Mission Falls Ranch in Saint Ignatius, Montana, USA, Joan Mason is an avid equestrian, champion dog breeder, and world-class artist!

Welcome Joan!

Describe Mission Falls Ranch…
We found a small ranch in the most gorgeous spot as my husband was retiring from the US Forest Service in 1985 and so we switched gears from USFS to Ranching and bought Gelbvieh Cattle.  We raised cattle for 20+ years here and in the process, started raising and training Border Collies to help us with the herd.  When we quit cattle, we bought a few sheep to continue training the dogs.  Now one of our main businesses is the dogs.  We have been raising working Border Collies for 27 years and have 9...with pups coming every so often (2 litters due this month). We are up against the Mission Mountain Tribal Wilderness and have Mission Creek flowing through the ranch.

We are looking for a new farm dog, and love collies!  
Would a border collie make a good addition to my farm? 
We don’t raise sheep…
Yes, Border Collies do make good companion dogs (w/o sheep), but they do have to have a 'job'.  The job can be your running buddy, Agility Star, Search and Rescue dog, Frisbee champ of the farm, or keeping the moose off the lawn (some of our dogs are in Alaska doing just that)!  

If I purchase a pup, but unable to travel to Montana; will you ship a pup to my farm?
We do ship dogs and have shipped as far as Panama City, Panama.
We have dogs doing Agility in Chicago, Atlanta, Florida, and Pennsylvania, Search and Rescue in Libby, Montana, dogs keeping geese off golf courses, and just goofing off here and there being companion dogs.

Do you ship pups anywhere/international? If you do, what is the process?
Panama was the only dog we shipped out of the country...lots of paperwork but it can be done!  We have sold to Canada but the people have come here to get them and fly home with them.  I do all the flying arrangements and paperwork...figuring out what airline, routes etc, would be best for the puppy.

What should I look for when acquiring a new dog?
Whether or not you get one from us, you should look at the track record of the breeder (how long have they been breeding, what are they breeding for, etc); whether or not they guarantee the puppy's hips and eyes; the temperament of the pup...and the best indication of that is the temperament of the parents; is there a contract...and what are the terms.  We do guarantee hips and eyes, have concentrated on breeding good outgoing bold personalities in the parents (no shy ones), and do not have a contract with hidden strings. We register with the American Border Collie Association.

Do you have a border collie story/anecdote to share?
There are so many over 27 years!  Just in the last 3 years the pups that we have saved for ourselves out of the litters or bought, have learned to go in and out the cat door (learned by watching our 3 cats).  This really helps in the potty training but unfortunately Border Collies eventually get bigger than cats.  We are constantly rescuing 'stuck' pups and/or replacing a destroyed door!  

I've heard sheep can be difficult to keep. Is that true?
Sheep actually are smarter than they are made out to be.  They can spot an open gate in 4 seconds flat. They are just herd animals and flock really well (good for BC's).  So they do things in groups.  They aren't hard to keep...the trick is in the fencing.  You need a good sheep fence to A. keep the sheep in, and B. keep the dog out, (until you want the dog to work the sheep and are controlling the situation).  Dogs should not be in with the sheep unattended...making for a "dog gone wrong" scenario. 

Your paintings are absolutely stunning.
What medium do you use?
Thank you!  I paint (and have been painting for 55 years...and my very first painting was commissioned by my High School art teacher ) primarily in oil and oil pastels on a variety of surfaces...canvas and masonite but have been experimenting with textural surfaces...paper, cloth, egg carton (mulched and shredded), dryer lint (yes you can paint on that!) and other things glued to the canvas or masonite. I then paint on those always surprised by the results so it is very fun.  

…and horses?
I have only concentrated on painting horses for the past 3 or 4 years...before that I painted people, livestock, wildlife, dogs, and a few landscapes but horses are my passion.  I raised Arabians for many years...both Pinto-Arabians and Straight Egyptian Arabians and love them.  I love everything about horses...from the smells, the curving lines of the movement, the times when the horse and I communicate by breathing each other's breath, and the welcoming nicker when I go out to feed.  So it was natural when I gave myself permission to 'do what I want and not what others expect' would be horses horses horses.  

Where do you like to paint?
I primarily paint in my studio at home...have done Plein-Aire painting and also do teach workshops from time to time (love seeing  people 'catch-fire' creatively).

Where are you currently exhibiting?
I am currently working toward an up coming show in Missoula, MT at the Artist Shop in the fall, and have two shows currently running at the Sandpiper Gallery in Polson, Montana, the other at The Hangin' Art Gallery in Arlee, Montana, for the month of July.  

Do you welcome visitors to your ranch to see your amazing collies, gorgeous horses, and view your artwork?
My husband Lynn and I do welcome people to come to the love on the dogs, see them work, pet the horses, do some art, or just rest and relax.  We are thinking of offering Art Retreats in the future...we are just in the planning stages right now.  But it is a marvelous place to paint and photograph.  

Connect with Joan…
All artwork and photographs (c) Joan Mason. No duplication without permission.

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