Mary Bolton and Don Schomberg grew up on farms in eastern Iowa. Don’s family raised beef and dairy cows, hogs, chickens and corn. Mary’s family raised Angus cows and calves. Both came from large families with 6-7 kids. Neither family had a stock dog, so when it was time to move, sort, or load stock, those jobs often fell to the kids. Needless to say, it wasn’t always a smooth event. Kids were nearly run over, stock put through fences, on more than one occasion!
Now, Don (commercial construction) and Mary (UIHC) are both retired after more than 30 years of full-time jobs. In an effort to stay out of trouble, and remain broke, we raise lots (70-80/yr) of baby dairy calves on the bottle and with a nurse cow. In addition, we have feeder calves, fat cattle, butcher calves, Gomer bulls and a small, but expanding, herd of commercial Angus cows and calves. On the side, we raise both wool and hair sheep.
Don buys and sells the livestock. Mary and her crew of border collies dog-break them. Dogs are a vital part of daily chores. They not only save time and steps, but, make the work safer, as well. Border collies gather, sort and load stock easier, than any other hired help. Dogs are also used to hold stock off of feed bunks as we do all the feeding by hand. Stock dogs never complain about the weather being too cold, too hot, or the footing in the barnyards, too mucky. They simply love to work!
Mary competes in a variety of herding venues including the USBCHA National Cattle Dog Finals and the Iowa State Fair trials. In 2012, Mary and Jeta were the Grand Champion (trophy winner)in the Ranch Sheep. Nick was her partner for Reserve Champion in Ranch Cattle in 2017.
Don and Mary host an AHBA(American Herding Breed Assoc.) trial the first weekend of May each year, at Bolton’s Acres Away farm near Columbus Jct, IA. All herding breeds(and mixes) are welcome to compete. Event is free to spectators.
Mary offers stock dog lessons most every Sat. throughout the year, on sheep or cattle. She occasionally has border collie pups or a started dog for sale.