Saturday, January 29, 2011

The best laid schemes of mice and men.....Go oft awry

After one beautiful fabulous day of working dogs at Knee Deep Ranch, I pulled into the ranch to do my chores and was greeted by this:


Yes indeed...that would be a lamb!  A beautiful 3/4 Blue faced Leicester 1/4 Coopworth ram lamb weighing in at 12 pounds!  Somehow he does not appear to be a preemie!!!



I think I might have mentioned that my lambs were not due until February 15th...and that I had been meticulous in my breeding plan this year....documenting and inducing.  As pointed out by my oh-so-supportive-and-sympathetic friends....17 days early....as in one complete heat cycle!  So it looks like this poor boy's mom is a cougar....taking advantage of my ram, Sam.....young and inexperienced as he was...he certainly must have been tall enough and developed enough to get the job done!

And so I will stick with my story.....the rest of the wool ewes are due to start lambing February 15th! Such a  lovely sample of what is yet to come!!!!

Seize the Day!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Getting Ready

My first ewes were bred September 21......that means I am due to start lambing February 15th.  In order to get ready, my wool girls needed tagged or crutched.  That is the process where the wool is removed from their bellies, from around their bags, and off their backends.  It helps with tidy lambing and then makes it easier for the newborns to find the milk bar.


I have 12 wool ewes to lamb out this year...plus my 12 hair ewes, but they will lamb a little latter.  Everyone is looking fabulous and it was fun guessing how many babies each ewe had inside.  Lambing is a little like Christmas....filled with both work and the wonder of the surprise of the gifts!  I used Sam the black ram on the four Shetland girls and I can't wait to see how those babies turn out! Plus the katahdin ram's babies are fun as he throws a lot of color and markings onto his lambs. 

 A few weeks ago, one of my pregnant Coop ewes started to go down hill. She went off food and was just hanging out around the protein block.  She looked like she was getting bottle jaw, but it was a little different, I wormed her.  And yet, she still was not doing well.  When I got back from my mini-vacation she really required some intervention or I knew I would lose her.  I've been pulling her in trying to get her to eat a variety of high protein foods. When the shearer came out, she helped me sort the ewe and it was determined she broke her jaw! That certainly would explain the swelling under her jaw that looked a little like bottle jaw. And also why she went off solid food and hung out at the protein block.  It was also concluded that she was healing up nicely.  I have continued to pull her in daily with one of her friends and am feeding alfalfa, wet cob mixed with some soy meal, a protein block, and a bunch of rumen support.  Today, she was feisty to come in, ate well, and looks so much better.  Here's to healthy lambs!

Next, I need to set up my jugs all the while hoping and a praying that the girls hold true to their due date.  I have one more clinic to attend.....and I might be pressing my luck!

Seize the Day!!!!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Complex Contradictions!

One whole week plus later.....I am now able to ease my mind into a speed that produces less smoke.....and sort through what all I learned at THE clinic.

I have to admit....with Crawford on my mom's side and Vincent on my dad's side...I have some serious Scottish blood flowing through these veins. Then add in a mix of Terry English and a wee splash of Conley Irish and well, that probably sums up the contrite nature that makes up me! I've already confessed I am an over-thinker...but I am a perfectionist and list maker.  I bring all this to clinics....and have an agenda for what I want to learn, solve, take-away.  Yes, dear Jack, I am always looking for answers! I guess I am sort of frugal too...lessons and clinics are expensive so I make sure I do my homework and come to the clinic with assessments of what went well and what needs help since the last face time. 

The Hopland Sheep Research Center was in the beginning of lambing out their Targhee cross flock.  I was excited that the same fine-wooled sheep were being used for the clinic.  I just love seeing how my girls sort out these range sheep.


THE clinic started each morning up by the lambing barns...using a round pen.  This pen was amazingly big compared to my 60 footer at home.  I'm thinking it was at least 100 ft and was perfect for starting dogs and cleaning up understanding in even the most advanced dogs.  The sheep were sorted first thing, and then taken in groups through a bigger field to the round pen standing smack in the middle.  In other words, the sheep could escape around the round pen if the dog did not handle them well through the gate.


I got the opportunity to help with sheep management....and I grabbed Sally to be my go to girl.  She did not have a go in the clinic, mostly because we are working together very nicely and I want to stay true to that journey.  When help was needed, I was excited to see how Sally would do....we have been working and looking for challenging sheep: pushing, covering, and working as a team....exactly what was needed to put the sheep in the free-standing round pen.  Sometimes, when I start giving a bunch of commands, Sally leans back and tells me.."hey, you want to micromanage...go girl"!  So we have been working on me giving whistles and then having her take them but continue to do her instinctual job as well.  I'm not sure I have written that well, but that is the dance Sally and I have going.  The task of moving sheep around gave me the opportunity to use my whistles and yet be still close enough to shoosh her on when I felt her going into her "fine tell me what to do mode".  When driving got crazy, I just stepped into the round pen making it a big fetch, or stepping to the gate of the round pen creating the feel of penning.....and Sally did some very nice work.  I just love little gifts.....it felt like a link in our continuation of working as a team with better understanding improves each time we work together on sheep. 

Little Gyp had a couple of round pen go's.  She certainly is fun and I like her.  Now that I am home...I see the work that Jack did with Gyp and me paying off as Gyp's flanks are opening up and she is feeling her sheep nicely. 

And now, let me show you what made me smile every morning...like a good cup of coffee:


That is a little guard dog in training....he had his own flock of lambs to hang with.  He did not particularly care for the fact that we stole them to work our dogs on....but he sure was cute!

So here is part of what I learned...summed up in a text to my husband. 

1) I am seeing things and understanding things better and I need to trust myself. 

2) Some of what I seek can only be found with time, miles and experience!

3) Part of my journey is to know my dogs.....know what they will be likely to do in a given situation. That is very personal and no other person can know my dogs like I know them.  One slice of this idea is for me to assess situations accurately and see my dogs crystal. 

4) I am ME! 

Seize the Day!!!!!!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Let's Get Real!

A good friend commented last week that many blogs seem superficially wonderful: Pollyanna-ish!  Well, that is what I heard...and then a blog I read all the time posted about not seeing faults in our dogs...and it started my mind thinking.  Yet again!  I don't generally go into details about my faults and my dog's faults on this blog.  Not because I don't see them....I think I see each of my dogs pretty darn realistic....although some have the opinion that I think too fondly of my Nellie!  I also know my faults inside and out....and they are reminded to me regularly, especially at clinics. As my Gramps would say...."that's alright"....I am embracing my imperfection so here is part one of my clinic story.

THE clinic was held at the Hopland sheep research center. What an amazing place!  The field we were allowed to work on was big...accommodating nice 450 yard outruns that could be made longer but very complicated with trees and terrain.  The field was rolling, the handlers post mid-hill, the dogs outrunning down the hill, across a flat, and then up a hill with bumps, bobbles and a stream running through. I last saw THE clinician in June.....at which time we sorted Nell and I began getting a handle my little rocket.  Since then, I have moved Nell to open....where the outruns are bigger, the fetches and drives longer, we now are asked to shed, and each and every trial brings new to me and my girl!  Consistently, I have been sorting out the longer fetches with Nell.  Her short fetches have been true....it is when length is added that I have seen some "issues" arise.  As I watch, video tape, and sort, I've come to the conclusion that some of the "issues" have come from doing dog-legged fetches through open gates to get bigger outruns at home.  Repetitiously doing these dog-legs was not the thing to do with my young, new to open dog...and that is for sure!  I've been traveling a bit to get big fields to work on this "fetching issue" and had made some good progress but I was missing something.

I had the opportunity to work Nell with Jack.....and though he did not understand why I wanted to work on my (long) fetches when we had such a beautiful field to work on outruns....he conceded.  In one fetch, I was sorted!  Here is the scoop....I was letting Nell come in on the end of her flank.  Same song next verse, I needed to handle her with a firm stop.  I went to the car, got my big blaster whistle.....and when I had another go.....I watched and handled Nell with the new vision, insight, clarity...the input of the stop and my handling of it....and the fetch was spot on. 

I am challenging myself to really see my dogs: their good, their bad, their character.  Then, it is my job to train them up and handle them....running them to their strengths and handling around their weaknesses.  I also appreciate beyond words the input from those I respect.  Sometimes I have a hard time seeing if it is the dog that is at fault, or if it is my handling at fault, or if I need to go back to the drawing board and put better training and understanding into the dog. And that is one very personal journey.....it changes regularly and definitely reads different with each of my dogs!

More on the clinic is coming....really it is. 

Seize the Day!!!!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Much Needed

Winter in the Willamette Valley has been wet....very wet!  I signed up for a mid-January clinic that was to be held in Hopland, California way back in November.  At that point in time, I was just hoping to be able to get past Mt. Shasta with roads nice enough to provide stress free travel.  I had no idea that I would be leaving the pouring rain.....the same rain that had me starting a siphon hose for the under-barn water storage system the day before I left. The roads were near perfect, the drive made shorter as I met Geri at the I-5 turn off and followed her to Hopland, chatting on walkie talkies to kill time.

I got the privilege of staying in a little cottage, smack dab in the middle of a secret garden!  Here Geri opens the gate to our little slice of paradise.....


Once settled, we stretched our legs and walked around.  The view was amazing but not near as awesome as the sun filling my dry empty cup!  Gosh I have missed that big yellow ball of warmth!

The vineyard is yet to show any new shoots of life...yet the grass is green and growing.  The sheep graze there to keep the rows tidy and add some organic fertilizer, I am sure.


We decided to explore the property more and hike to the main house. 


Amazing.....


I could not believe that I did not realize how steep the terrain would be!  Me, in my Fatbaby Cowgirl Boots trying to conjure my mountain goat climbing abilities!  And just when I was checking out the cell service to call for a 4-wheeler....I spy with my little eye.....amidst the olive trees.....the main house!


And the view of the vineyard and the sheep from the other side.....


I've come to the conclusion that I am truly blessed....one of the luckiest girls alive!  I've glimpsed Heaven.....from different views. The green hills of England, the rugged high dessert of Idaho, the pristine oasis of Steel Swamp, and now the secret garden hidden amongst the rolling hills of Sonoma!

Seize the Day!

Stay Tuned......

I am having a bought of writers block.......there is so much in my brain.....my fingers can't even begin to process.  So, stay tuned....I'll be back with all the frivolity from the Jack Kn*x Boot Camp soon....very soon.

Seize the Day!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

What I Love About Winter

I'll be working on my Attitude of Gratitude this year!  Manifesting all that I am thankful for.  Winter, hmmm...what do I love about winter.  Digging deep here.....

"Me" training time...I do get more time to train me and my own dogs during the winter.  My place gets awful wet and then I head into lambing.  So during the winter, lessons are sporadic and only for the most forgiving and flexible of friends. Inconsistencies in teaching lessons gives me time to travel to less-wet fields!

I went to Fido's Farm and worked dogs with my friend from Whistle Pig Place.  This might look like my Bella...however, it is Z....a kissing cousin of Bella.  When Erin and Z were holding my set, and Bella was lifting.....I had to pay close attention to which dog was mine!


Clinics....winter seems to be the time for many great clinics and private lessons.  I am so very excited to be headed down to a Jack Kn*x clinic!  For this particular clinic, I am contemplating just handing him my "list of questions" that have been compiled since I saw him last June, the night before the clinic...okay, maybe not!

Lambing....I start lambing February 15...which is still winter but getting closer to my FAVORITE season...spring.  I am looking forward to lambing this year for a couple of reasons. I bred 25 ewes.....4 Shetlands to a Blue faced Leicester ram....hoping and a wishing that was a nice cross for size, ease of birthing, nice temperament and lovely fleeces!  I also induced breeding with CIDR inserts.....I can not wait to see how this will impact my lambing.  Most anything would be better than my never-ending lambing season of last year!

Of course, winter provides plenty of time for over-thinking!  I am taking a few on-line courses that I am hoping to learn from.  I am looking closely at "what is my part in this".  I think it is key in all of my relationships....including with my dogs.  What is my part of the shed, the tension, the flow...and how can I step up to be more responsible for how much I am helping or letting my dogs down. How can I be a more effective communicator?  How can I set healthy boundaries and be consistent with criteria and outcome?  When do I let go of forcing an issue to embrace what is being presented? I think that is a great way to look at all relationships....raise the bar in taking responsibility for myself and my journey!

Ah Winter......may I learn to love you!

Seize the Day!!!!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Nell is NOT an Onion!

From the movie Shrek:

Shrek: For your information, there's a lot more to ogres than people think.


Donkey: Example?

Shrek: Example... uh... ogres are like onions!

[holds up an onion, which Donkey sniffs]

Donkey: They stink?

Shrek: Yes... No!

Donkey: Oh, they make you cry?

Shrek: No!

Donkey: Oh, you leave 'em out in the sun, they get all brown, start sproutin' little white hairs...

Shrek: [peels an onion] NO! Layers. Onions have layers. Ogres have layers. Onions have layers. You get it? We both have layers.

[walks off]

Donkey: Oh, you both have LAYERS. Oh. You know, not everybody like onions. What about cake? Everybody loves cake!

Shrek: I don't care what everyone else likes! Ogres are not like cakes.

Donkey: You know what ELSE everybody likes? Parfaits! Have you ever met a person, you say, "Let's get some parfait," they say, "Hell no, I don't like no parfait"? Parfaits are delicious!

Shrek: NO! You dense, irritating, miniature beast of burden! Ogres are like onions! End of story! Bye-bye! See ya later.

Donkey: Parfait's gotta be the most delicious thing on the whole damn planet!



Nell is NOT like an onion!
 

Nor is she like a CAKE!

 
I don't see much of a parfait in her either.....
 

I believe my Nell is like a Rubik's Cube.......

Seize the Day!

Monday, January 3, 2011

It's All Right......

My vision board is complete with a great list of goals attached....now it is time to start living them!  January 1, 2011...found me hitting the road....off to a sheepdog trial.  In my very humble opinion....it was the best way to start the year!  What was a long drive....turned into a longer drive with ice and then snow slowing my progress......yet I persevered and was rewarded with Gyp's first snow dance!


In fact, all the dogs were pretty stoked about the snow.....running and playing and....much to Gyp's delight...eating snow! 

Happy Snook!
After taking the dogs for a long walk to stretch their legs, it was game time.

The field was pretty good sized....and the sheep blended very nicely with the terrain!  There was a frosting of snow and a crispness to the air...making for frisky button pushing sheep!


Speaking of the sheep.....we ran on Suffolks!  They certainly had a different feel than any sheep I had ever run on before...and the girls seemed to agree with me!


Here is what I learned....we have work to do!  Sally needs conditioning...and will go back in for some blood work this week.  Nell needs good ole work.  She is not the type of dog that does well when forced to take 4 weeks off for Christmas and flooding.  What was I thinking? 

But as I said, it's all right....right where I am...is where I am going to be.  It was good to run and learn and laugh.  Geri judged!  That was fun.  And looking on the good side...I did NOT win....so I won't have to judge the next trial!  I'll sleep a little easier knowing my days of judging are not nipping at my heals.

What a great start to the new year.  Bring it!

Seize the Day!