Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Steers.....

Sometimes life, and how it unfolds....amazes me! Case in point: Patrick teaching in Cottage Grove was a last minute ta-do....where I chatted with Nancy about a place she likes to go to work stock....and then Geri had to jet to a meeting early Tuesday morning....so Nancy kindly made arrangements ....and Bill stopped haying.......and I found myself doing this: Okay, NOT exactly that...but very close!

Nancy took me out to Bill C's place and I felt like I had stumbled into yet another room at Heaven. Bill had a whole pen full of steers....and sorted them off in small groups for the dogs to work. Knowing that I had "limited" experience working cows.....Bill gave me a brief demo.

His little dog ROCKED! Very confident and moved the cows...but not in a "rodeo" sort of way. Just a lot of authority and a move-along grip when needed. He told me once he got the steers settled to go ahead and bring Nell out.........and that is just what I did. Nell really seems to enjoy working cows. She gripped a few times....got kicked at......started to think through her grips a little.....coming in lower so a kick would miss her head. My only fault was, I should have told Bill how trained Nell was before we went out. Nell seemed a little out of sorts and not doing a whole lot of controlled work....until Bill realized she was taking his whistles (which were opposite to mine and I was not whistling...instead I was standing there with my mouth open) and taking the steers where Bill's whistles said to. Opps.

Nancy brought her young dog out and I was amazed to see the process of starting a dog out on cows. All I can say is.....Nancy and Bill have waaaayyyyy more courage than I!Next, I got Bella out.....I wondered if Bella had ever seen or worked cows....having spent the first 8 months of her life on a huge cow ranch in the Dakotas and coming from strong cow working lines on her mama's side.

At first, she was a bit tentative......and I over cheered with a lot of atta girls and leg pats. We got things going along and she just sort of settled into a baby cow dog......
Bill called out a "task" for me........so Bella and I went to work to accomplish the task....and we lost the steers into the draw. But miracles of miracles.....I kept my mouth shut.....(REALLY I did!)....and Miss Bella turned into a mean, lean, biting, I'll teach you a thing or two, big girl cow dog! I just positioned myself in the direction I wanted her to bring the steers out of the open holding corral.......and Bella did the rest. It was pretty darn amazing! Once we got the steers going.....Bill's words echoed in my mind....."the steers will need a place to go and will need the release to feel they can go there (my interpretation of Bill's words). Bella and I drove them down a fence line...at quite a quick little pace....and I called her off. Bella the cowdog.....that has a nice ring to it! A huge THANK YOU to Nancy and Bill......

Seize the day!!!!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Working Dogs.....

I made a quick road trip down to the Border Collie Training Center....in pursuit of bigger fields and different sheep from those at home....continuing the development of a deeper relationship with greater understanding for all the girls.

Geri hauled sheep out into "the bowl" for me. I walked out and sent the girls to lift out of the draw. Nell was nice....listening.....taking corrections.....wanting to work for me. We continue to make improvements.....that is a good thing!

I got Bella out to give her a spin......she is slated for nursery at Sheep Thrilz which is known for big open sized courses for the nursery runs.
Geri took pictures....the guard dog gave Bella a little guard dog smack talk.....and Bella had to work hard to see the sheep and figure out how to cover and bring them in tall grass.....but all in all Bella did very nice with all that she was handed.
Then Geri did a little shedding demo for me......string them out.....call the dog through......
and for goodness sakes....get out of the way for your dog!Okay...I hear ya loud and clear! Get out of the dogs way!
I took the newly detailed Sally out on the main training field......worked on lines, pushing and a little get-out-of-the-dog's-way shedding!

I am excited to trial this weekend in Scio, Oregon....my back yard so to speak. My goal......to focus on my relationship with each dog I run......striving not for perfection but instead understanding and team work. United we stand.....or something like that.

Seize the Day!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Getting Ready To Be Hot!

The weather has not been cooperating for conditioning dogs to run in hot weather. Knowing that hot weather runs are coming.....I decided to take Sally to the groomers to do what I can to help keep her cool.

Ranch Dog Resort is highly recommended by top handlers from the State of Jefferson. Since I was headed to the Border Collie Training Center.....I thought....what the heck and made an appointment!
Jennifer, the groomer was very nice....and knowledgeable on what all to do to help Sally stay cool. She was also very understanding......this was Sally's first ever experience in a salon!

Sally was very glad to see me when I picked her up. She got washed, dried, undercoat stripped, and her belly shaved. She looks a bit fluffy.....but we will take care of that tonight when we go out to work dogs in the dirt and sage brush!

I personally think Sally looks fabulous! This is all Sally has to say........
Off for some truly awesome outruns.......with some good friends......all compliments of one of my favorite places on earth.....

Seize the Day!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Great Start to the Summer!

The weather finally turned warm....leading one to believe that there may be summer this year! Saturday started out with a lesson from Patrick Shannah*n. I squeezed in three girls in 50 minutes and my head is still spinning. One great aspect to training with Patrick....he watches my runs at trials. I love going over my runs at my lesson. He gave me some pointers shedding with Sally, ideas on what is next with Nell, and input on Bella and how she looks working for me. As always, so very much to think on....

This morning found me getting up early and heading to Fido's farm to meet some girl friends.

Cheryl was the ring leader for the dog working crew! As always it was a learning experience watching her work her dogs......I love the open talk about our dogs, what we are seeing and feeling and starting to work through that as I head into a more rigorous trial season.
Nora came and worked her dogs....both looked real nice!
Gyp got tied out to the fence for the first time ever...and minded her p's and q's very nicely.Cheryl brought Mr. Dodger for me to kiss on, love up. and admire. Gyp still loves him.....as do I! He is so handsome with his ice blue eye. I think he still remembers me......

I worked all three o f my trial girls.....Sally picked up her pace nicely and showed me that my new approach to shedding is definitely taking us in the right direction. Nell continues to make relationship improvements with me. Corrections are not "that big of a deal" when I don't make them out to be! And Bella looked smashing! Very soft and supple.....lovely inside flanks compliments of Diane Deal.

In preparation of Sheep Thrillz Sheep Dog Trial next weekend.....I have two more stops to make. Not really adding much new....just letting the girls know it is the same old same old as we approach new fields and new sheep!

Seize the Day!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Knee-high By the Fourth of July

They say that corn should be knee-high by the 4th of July......... our corn is looking good! I just picked the first zucchinis tonight.......the first of many as there are two plants. The tomatoes are filling their supports.......
The peas are starting to blossom........The grapevines were cut back aggressively this spring......
and the grapes look to be a bumper crop.

All this and more in Dave's garden!

Every year......I plant a garden. This year all the produce was planted from starts.....making it possible to plant late yet still reap a good harvest. Every year, I weed and tend and feed and prune.....and then my hubby takes produce to his mom and his business....and gets all the credit! This is just one of those funny traditions that make me love him so! I have planned a big trip to South Dakota at the end of August......right smack in the middle of garden production.....we will get to see just what kind of gardener Dave is. So, here's to Dave's 2010 garden!

Seize the Day!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Cacophonous

Dictionary.com definition -adjective: having a harsh or discordant sound.


Rocking Dog Ranch definition: the weaning of lambs!

These are the days I am glad I do not live at the ranch!

Seize the day!!!!!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Where the Black Sheep Gather

Eugene is host to many a function....University of Oregon sports......Olympic qualifying Track Meets.....and The Black Sheep Gathering! Yep, every year right about now, all the black sheep from families around the West Coast gather to see who is the baddest black sheep! Okay not really......but it sounds good! Instead it is a fiber show...you know...sheep, llama, alpca, suri fiber all cleaned, some processed....and some made into useful items.I contemplated buying a hook-rug kit but the price for the kit alone...no yarn included....made me realize it might turn into one of those unfinished projects in my closet collecting things to do when the kids leave home. So I walked away.

What I love about The Black Sheep Gathering is.....Shaul's!Every year, I save up my money and add to my sheep handling equipment. This year, I ordered three special made panels to complete the bow gate I bought at the finals last fall. My sheep panels at home are just a tad too small....and I want to use the pen the bow gate and panels make for the Regionals.....great excuse to buy more equipment from Shaul's!

The Black Sheep Gathering hosts a HUGE sheep competition. There are a lot of sheep to look at.....instead of buying that rug kit......I almost bought this ram! He is handsome....and black! I left him there for somebody else to buy and went to watch the sheep showing.My friends from Kenleigh Acres Farm had their Jacobs in the show ring..... this blond chick kept flirting with this handsome dude ...and I kept yelling "get a room!".

Not really.....that is Shannon and her hubby Tony from Kenleigh Acres Farm. I don't know how Shannon talked Tony into showing sheep for her. But he did...and let her beat him too! It turned into a family affair with their son, Theron, showing his little ewe.The Jacob sheep classes were very full this year...with stiff competition! Kenleigh Acres Farm did fabulous with Champion ewe and Reserve Champion ewe!

As I walked around the Gathering....I kept wondering if someday I might spin, or raise sheep to show......and then I got in the car, drove to the ranch, got a dog out and realized......the dogs and their amazing work are what I love the most! As my grandfather would say...."that's alright".

Seize the Day!!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Gracie

Gracie....what a very nice name....it is my husband's Grandma's name and brings back fond memories of a Gma's love for her grandson! Gracie...that is the name that my new llama came with!

I don't believe Gracie has ever been off the fiber llama ranch she was born on......so this could have been her first trailer ride. Thank goodness I am just a few miles down the road from her previous home.
She unloaded easily and I led her down to her flock.....deciding to put her directly in with the ewes with lambs. A little nervous, yet taking it all in....Gracie had never met sheep before nor has she been away from her llama family.
The sheep were very curious about their new llama.....and Gracie wanted to be curious about them as well. She took a liking to my two young twin lambs and seemed to settle in. I kept them all in a smaller field with shelter over night just to have them get to know each other. The following day, the flock took Gracie down into the orchard pasture where they spent the day grazing and lazing about. Gracie seems to be settling in nicely......accepting her new sheepy friends and yet still coming up to get her daily grain!
Gracie is a bit smaller than Gingerbread was. Her coat is shorter as well.....but very soft for llama fiber! I'll shear her if the weather ever gets warm.....which is greeted by much enthusiasm from my fiber loving friend! She seems like she is going to be a great fit.Welcome, Gracie. It is so nice to have a llama back at Rocking Dog Ranch!

Seize the Day!!!!!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Hmmm, I Think My Ram Got Out....



Seize the day!!!!

Welcome Home, Bella

Last month, Bella went to Dianne Deal's from some polishing. Her inside flanks were tight and she had a bit of tension in her at times. Bella and I have come so far in such a short amount of time....instead of me putting more training pressure on her......I wanted to see if a change in hands would add clarity. Diane was the perfect person....I value her opinions, she is honest, and I like how she trains and runs her dogs.
When I picked Bella up, Dianne did a great job explaining to me where Bella was and how she handled tightness. Thankfully......because I took Bella out for a test drive yesterday. Right out of the chute....she was leaning on me! She was very full of herself, which I like.....yet settled with correction....which I like more! Just a tiny amount of corrective support and she was giving me nice, soft, feely inside flanks. Not perfect but she was taking the correction with understanding and thought. YEA!!!!!

Dianne also put her on whistles for me.....I thought I knew Dianne's whistles but I sure don't seem to blow them like her. Bella took every one as a walk on......just like my other dogs do with my finger whistles. So a whistle tape is on its way from Diane.....I don't want to get after Bella if my whistles don't resemble what she knows.The next leg of the journey starts.......putting it all together for a good relationship. At 2 1/2 I am very proud of this young girl. She is blossoming into such a nice sheepdog. Thank you, Dianne Deal for helping us become a better team!


Looks like it is time for me to mow the fields.....

Seize the day!

Monday, June 14, 2010

The Dirt Blowing Trial...with a little mud

I just got home from the Dirt Blowing Trial. The 2010 version of the trial where, last year, Nell sliced an inside away flank to make Art for Vickie Close (check out Handhills Border Collie News). This is one trial I make sure to pack my big girl panties for......it certainly sorts the neonatal infant baby girls from the women!

The sheep were range Targhees......long legged, big bodied young ewes that could be described as "twitchy". I overheard many a top hand say...."man it is hard to get a feel on these sheep!". The open day started out slow as the girls were nearly impossible to set! A mix of already-run sheep and moving to setting from trailers saved the day....which ended around 7 from a 6:15 start time. It was one loooonnnnnnggggg day!

The judge was from Idaho.....a fellow very familiar with running on this type of sheep.....and spoiled by the luxurious judge's tent.
Sally ran second the first go....something new to me. With only one run ahead of us to spot the sheep and no scent path laid down for the sheep to settle into.....I was anxious to see how this all played out for us. How exciting to see our time together this past year paid off with a very nice outrun and lift! We ended up stalled out...and I immediately left the post...not wasting a second to go help her sort them...and was very glad I did. All the way back to exhaust, I celebrated how far we have come......brown field....dirty sheep....and certainly a good sized outrun....and Sally nailed it! What could I have done different? "A control style of handling hinders feel".....my new Jack Kn*x mantra.......did I stop her too much having her lean back wanting me to direct her every move? Should I have used my "there" instead of my stop....too worried that she would over flank on these fine wool sheep that she loves to catch their eye on...the ending kiss of death to a run. I watched a few runs with some of my favorite peeps....and then went off to set nursery runs on the other field.13 nursery runs......not too bad of a set out assignment.....Right! 3 1/2 hours later.......I was one beat pup......learned a ton and Sally had a good lesson on these sheep.....but it was a near impossibly difficult task. There were three of us.....two top open handlers and their dogs plus me and Sally. The sheep were.....well ,twitchy! And certainly made mincemeat out of a few nursery dogs!

My second open go was much better. I tried to keep my commands to a minimum with limited stops only when I needed them. It is such a dance......too much command.....not enough dog.....to little command.....sheep pushed dog around. Sally gave me her all....never quit me once....we got the sheep around the course.....and they were pushing on Sally so very hard from a lack of team work on the beginning of the fetch. But again, I am proud of my dog. We are getting to be a team......what more could I ask for? We finished mid-pack.....better than the two RTs of last year. I pulled Nell from pro novice. She is close to being in standing heat....plus we have been working on our "relationship" and I was not sure these sheep would do anything for improvement on that journey at this point. I do believe I made a good decision. I did stick around and exhausted a few runs on the hill field with Sally.....and what a blessing that was. Sally was amazing.....even running out to pull the sheep off the set-out trailer and bring them down the field at a nice pace. A very good friend pointed out how really nice Sally can be when we work together with trust and I am not nervous and over-handling....note to good friend: I love you....and I heard you! Now how to keep that in my heart as I walk to the post on my next run.

With support from friends and mentors, books and tapes....this journey is becoming one of steps in improving relationship and understanding and less about winning. It feels good to settle into the comfort of that mission. Sounds like life to me.......

Seize the day!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Jack......

Training dogs for Jack is like breathing to the rest of us. It just is! I could write a book but it would be just one page....one sentence....."correct the wrong, leave the right". That's it. And to think I have gone to three 3-day clinics and still am seeking out all the meanings to this so elusive method!
I took away little tid bits.....one liners that I swallowed and then have brought back and chewed on....."it s the difference between the dog giving you something and you making it".
"A control style of handing hinders feel"
Since attending a judging clinic in April....I have been looking at my journey with Nell. Our relationship away from home was not developing in the direction I wanted......so Nell was my main focus as I worked with Jack at my place, at the Border Collie Training Center, and during the three days of clinic. I've learned so very much....it is not a big deal that Nell is not taking my command but rather she is not understanding the correction. I admire my dog when she is right....which should be no big deal....and get very frustrated when she won't take a command.....which should be no big deal. It just is.....and then work with it. And lastly, or maybe a momentary lastly......when I put in my head to run a course, I panic and over handle. I need to run her like I train her....train her like I want to run her.....instead of fretting about hitting panels or holding lines, or reading sheep, or.......being perfect. I think perfect should be a four letter word......it frustrates me to no end!


I feel blessed.....blessed to have been allowed to transport Jack around Oregon and Northern California.....hours on end to listen and learn. Nuggets were taken from even the funniest stories....and he can certainly tell a few! I feel blessed to have my never ending list of questions answered....even when threatened with being put on a quota! I feel blessed to be allowed to see that there is no formula to training dogs....each dog will let us know what it needs if we watch and listen. The journey of learning about working sheepdogs is never ending....and made so much sweeter with people like Jack to share it with!

Seize the day!