Monday, November 28, 2011

I Like It, I Love It, I Want Some More Of It.....

The last trial of the Willamette Valley Sheepdog Trifecta was on Saturday.  I'm very sad to see this series come to an end.....but what a group of trials it was!

There was a lot of camaraderie and friendship being shared...


a lovely fire to keep warm while watching.....


a very nice field......


some fabulous dogs.....



a few challenging sheep....



a very good judge.....


a gracious hostess



and at the end of the day... there were the winners.......


Judge Jo Ferguson, Lynn Johnston, Ian Caldicott, Elissa Thau, Laura Vishoot
Jesse & Joe Kid
 Ian Caldicott and his Joe Kidd were the champions yet again this year.  Lynn Johnston and Jesse were the reserve. 

I really had a great time....I just love running three open dogs!  I could go on and on with all the over-thinking I took away from my runs! Each of them so different and yet a common theme showing up with each that is challenging how I view my handling.  I managed to achieve one of my personal goals in not touching my brass whistle once.  I do confess I thought about it on all three runs and most especially on Nell's!  For all the discipline, I have a blister on my top lip and I know I need to work on the nuances of these finger whistles...especially the quiet side as I have the loud whistles down!

It is time to begin the December journey through my goals of 2011.....sorting out what dreams lie ahead for 2012!

Seize the Day!!!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Black Friday, RDR Style

It's Black Friday, and while others are waking up in tents in front of Best Buys.....I decided I would have my own little Black Friday Fun...ala Rocking Dog Ranch style.

How fun would it be for my friends and I to play a little game...one I learned down at the Border Collie Training Center...which of course is on a much bigger scale down there because all the dog work is bigger down there!

Denise and Brite stood in one corner.....


Adele and Jill in another corner....


And I was mid-field with Grace....


We practiced gathers off each other.

I loved how the day played out.  We used lambs which really showed each of us how our dogs were doing.  It was also interesting to watch the dogs sort out lifting off a person and another dog.  We ended the day by doing a few outruns out of the draw without anybody holding.

After Denise and Adele left, I worked the rest of the girls.  Shedding with Bella, Nell and Sally and then doing some flock work with Gyp.  Then Nell and I wormed the lambs and Snook helped me clean a few stock tanks. 

I would way rather spend my Friday after Thanksgiving out working dogs.  Of course I did not get any holiday shopping done but heck....I still have one whole month till Christmas!

Seize the Day!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Giving Thanks.....

I love Thanksgiving; it is a day where materialism is absent and sorting through all that I am thankful for centers me.  I love having my boys home and am very glad they want to come home! I enjoy cooking the turkey dinner....taking orders from my husband and the boys as to what they want to eat for the day.  Since the beginning of our family, we have made it a tradition to step away from any hectic holiday stress and go see a newly released movie in the theatre on Thanksgiving day.  It really is a special day.

Today, as the turkey cooked...I zipped out to the ranch to do my chores.  While there, I took inventory of my farm life thanks.

I am so very thankful to have a little place of my very own.  I'm thankful for a  flock of hearty ewes, some bred, and lambs with hay in the loft to feed them, shelter that they seem to love, and a very good guard llama.


I'm thankful to be able to raise lambs for friends....giving them the gift of fabulous tasting farm grown lamb raised and butchered in the best way possible.


I'm thankful for good neighbors that help whenever I'm in desperate need and allow me to graze my sheep on their lovely field.


I'm even thankful for my chickens....funny little critters!


I'm also thankful for my barn cat...she who was hit by a car 5 years ago and chose my barn to recover in.  Barn cat, who keeps me company during winter lambing and actually does keep a few mice away.


All this because of that one August day 7 years ago....when I took Miss Snook out for an "instinct test" and my life has never been the same!

Grace



Gyp

















Happy Thanksgiving!!!!

Seize the day!!!!
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    

Saturday, November 19, 2011

E:60 Junkie

I don't watch much TV.  When I do, my all time, hands down favorite show is

E:60

E:60 is produced by ESPN news and covers a way different side to competition.  Over and over, there are stories about "athletes" that have over-come....be it environmental as it was with the basketball player who's mom kept the gang away so her son could go on to play at the college level; physical as with the Vietnam Veteran who is an at-the-knee double amputee that golfed 18 holes at St. Edwards; the long distance runner who was diagnosed with leukemia and attempted to run all the way across Canada;or  the story I linked, an emotional one about an 8 year old boy that participates in triathlons with his younger brother that has Cerebral Palsy.  Of course ESPN mixes in stories that make your hair stand on end, or behind the scenes with a famous athlete, or stories about "what ever happened to such and so"...but it is always the stories about "over coming" that bring awe along with cheers and a bit of a tight throat fighting a few tears.

My first thought is always...WOW! they have overcome so much.  Then I can't help but wonder.....what makes some people dig deep and become so much more than what their handicap/challenge should allow?  I ponder, why do some never get beyond their handicap/challenge?  And why do some, without a handicap to be had, become stuck in boredom and apathy.  Is it a gene,  personality trait, circumstance, up-bringing, faith, luck, support from others, discipline, stick-to-it-tiveness, desire, visualization,  Law of Attraction...what is do these over-comers have inside them, even as young as 8!? How do I grab a hold of some of that "what" to move beyond excuse to become more than a survivor but one who seizes the day and lives the dream.

For me, watching these stories unfold inspires me; encourages me to forge ahead all the while keeping my challenges in perspective.  Recently, I received and email that said, "Decide to be one of those people who pull it off!" and that is a very good decision!

Seize the Day!

Friday, November 18, 2011

A Time to Learn

Winter trials are a learning time for me.  I feel the freedom to step back and try some new ideas without the pressure I put on myself to "make" them work.  I love looking at the communication relationship and sorting what is working, what is not working, and what I might want to add.  Though Nell wondered what "ridiculous" meant at Boo & Baa, personally I am trying to loose the nonsense and blather. 

This past weekend was a real nice winter trial at Magnolia Farms.  The sheep were a uniform group of lambs....some worked, some never worked...but sorted so each dog got a little of each.  The field was not huge...but was loaded with complications that must be address.  Dog-legged fetch, changing draws, and a bit of terrain...plus shed/pen/single if a person got that far.  The judge was a good one, for sure!


Sally was feeling fine and certain she did not need no stinkin' handler.  I walked.  I loved my Nell.....always will.  She is trying really hard for me so now I need to adjust me.  I am most certainly a work in progress.  I played with some ideas that came from my Scott lesson and liked the result.... though my Nell was a little confused in the change in me...I'll stick with the change as I work with her to help build it into how we run.


Having recently moved Bella to open, a couple of ideas stick in my brain.  One is that she is doing pretty well and though sometimes she reverts back to a little tension, she is settling down just as quick.  The second is that she is learning and needs freedom to experience time and miles.  Last year, Nell gripped out twice on lambs at the regionals.  Now a full year later, after providing plenty of experience, she has learned to work them.  I (and my friends) remind myself to not get upset with imperfection....give Bella room to learn.  Third is my confession from the shedding clinic, I did not introduce Bella to shedding with a good concrete  foundation...hence her shed needs to go back to basics.  I felt these lambs were a good challenge to shed....especially because of the whole lamb experience on the course.  No excuses from me, the shed did not end well...but I could see the progress in our relationship as there was no tension grip and she did come through.  What I did see was a dog that was trying to understand but was in over her head and a handler that should have set it up a little better for success on a new-to-open dog.  I also was pretty happy with myself for not yelling at her while she was in over her head.  That, to Bella, is like gasoline on a small match.....the ending might have been much different in a tragic sort of way.

I am thankful for the winter trials....I walk away with a box of ideas on how to present information to my dogs, in as many ways as I can creatively come up with, to sort out training and build effective communication.  For Bella, we will continue with the shedding program and add in some close, tight fence work.  I'll continue to work her on lambs when given the opportunity but I won't make her binge on them.  I'll keep to my goal of a tension free dog and continue assessing, not only what needs work between us, but also celebrating what is working well and the improvements that have been made along the way. I will also push myself to make sure I am seeing the journey with absolute truth....not glamorising the bad nor diminishing the progress....nor putting judgement value to either side but being good with what it is.  Ninja/Zen/Jedi at its best.

Seize the Day!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Why Did the Chicken Cross the Road?

Because the lady who lived on the other side of said road is a softy to the core and needs serious counseling for hoarding and codependency!  When these chickens moved in...I did everything I could to get them to go back to where they came from.


I called their home on the other side of the road, I shooed them off my place onto the side of the road hoping they  would cross back, I tried very hard not to care when chicks went missing or midnight carnage occurred from the pesky raccoon that thought the chickens crossed the road to make for an all-you-can-eat buffet. Then I snapped....yes sirree....I went out and bought myself a chick coop, off Craig's List no less.  I then put up my poultry electro-net from Premier, my good neighbor friend came and made the coop a little less drafty and wa la.....I've now got chickens.


Here is the mama hen:


and one of her two hen babies that are more teenagers:


I've got the coolest hen house with three nesting boxes.  They have a place to roost at night....plenty of food and water....I toss them COB every day to keep them happy with things to do.  Shhh don't tell anybody but I kind of like them.  My only wish is......I wish I could have been there the night the raccoon tried to climb the fence and got his hiny shocked!  That would have made this whole adventure priceless! Here's to fresh eggs come what spring.

Seize the Day!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

To Shed or Not to Shed.....

I had the most splendid opportunity to take, yet for the third time, a shedding clinic with Scott Glen.  Did I mention this was my third one?  The good news is...I "think" I am getting better.  I did not get made fun of once...well, at least not to my face.  That is a good start!

The host of the clinic was Fido's Farm; lovely setting with a choir of colorful, leafy melody being sung in the back drop of a nice sized field.  Chris, the owner of Fido's Farm, saved some scrumptious lambs for us to shed, which encouraged success as they would split and allow for the beginning dog to come through.

Chris makes a plan with Scott
I moved Bella to open on a whim of a cancelled non-compete open run.  I confessed that I had not done a lot of foundation work with my shed and thus had created confusion in my dog.  Bella has been able to get the shed done but with lack of good form and understanding....leaving us to not get our shed as often as hearing a "good".  Scott took us back to the basics, breaking it down for me in a clear and concise fashion.  Funny story....at the end of the day, Scott put a timer on me and started counting down to add pressure.  Why? Well he told me I was over thinking....and the crowd burst into laughter!  Me, over thinking?  No WAY!  WHAT EVER!

Nell has had the opportunity to work with Scott before in shedding. She is a pretty tidy little shedder and covers my hinny a LOT!!!  That said, Scott was able to see a little something that had been nagging my brain and gave me a good plan on addressing that nag.  We are also heading into better understanding for the International shed.  I think Nell gets frustrated with me letting the sheep go and not understanding that is the plan. 

Chris getting a very nice shed
 In addition to the clinic, I was able to take a few private lessons with Scott.  I love how the three individual slots turned into the very same "idea" over and over and over, from different angles.  I'm still chewing on all that was presented and how it applies to each dog.  "Precision" and "meticulous" are words I'm defining, and sorting application of, to my training and handling.

The most exciting part of the days at Fido's Farm was the kick off to the new adventure that Scott and Jenny Glen have agreed to join in with Little Horse Mountain Productions.  Quite a little bit of filming was accomplished and now Geri and I begin the journey of capturing and editing and polishing this adventure to share!

Now if I could just find a way to sneak my Hello Kitty stock stick into the footage......hmmm.  Might need some girl help with this.

Seize the Day!!!!

Monday, November 14, 2011

CAUGHT!!!

Just got off the phone....THE DOG HAS BEEN CAUGHT!  What a fabulous way to start the day!  I'm so thankful that the dog is alive and well, if not stinky and very thin. 

I can only imagine what adventures that boy had.....but now, back to civilization!

Tiny miracles......

Seize the Day!!!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Without A Picture

A friend of mine has lost a dog. The kind of lost that can be found if the dog were willing to be caught. I feel her pain deeply. A few years back, I borrowed a little Aussie from a friend thinking I would put some time on it and experience an Aussie.  A few tiny mistakes on my part had the dog slipping out into the wild world under the tiny opening of my garage door.   I told my son, "I'd be back when I found her and no sooner".  I think I aged 10 years that day.  The family I borrowed her from came and we split up looking.  Funny thing was, she had not gone far.  Once she heard a familiar voice she was caught and taken home and my days of Aussie training ended as their truck drove off.

I had a spare day on my hands and needed to take Geri some business items...so I loaded the car with dogs, cooked up a 1/2 pound of bacon, bought a rotisserie chicken and off I went to help my friend.  Now I had no illusions that I was going to work any miracle that all her other dog friends could not work.  I just thought maybe a new scent of food might bring in a hungry boy...it used to work at my house all the time. Start a fabulous dinner....boys would show up....food was eaten.... plates licked clean!  Boys will be boys. 

I met my friend mid morning and another of her friends came along.  We shared phone numbers and then all headed out in different directions from the place the dog was last sighted.  Finally, the UPS driver called and said he had spotted the dog in a field far from where we were looking.  The three of us girl scouts jumped in our rigs and headed to the rendezvous site......sure enough....my friend, who had arrived first, had spotted the dog way out in a big field, hanging out.  Our hopes were high as we split up.....bacon was doled out and I kept the chicken.  I took Nell, Gyp and Grace with me and kept giving them treats off the carcass...hoping that boy dog would join the pack and come for the best smelling treat he had ever smelled.

My friend kept watch as the two of us trackers took off, heading out I bet a quarter of a mile to come round the back side of the dog.  Me, with my three dogs, big black plastic platter with a rotisserie chicken on it, cell phone tucked under my ear so I could be talked in to the exact spot of the dog.  Crossing through barbed wire fences while balancing the chicken that all my dogs were willing to fight for.  There was a little ridge in the field, one that kept me from seeing the dog from my view.  The voice on the phone kept me coming and just as I got to where I might have seen him, might have thrown him a bite of my tasty lure, might have sat down and just taken the pressure off.....that darn dog went into flight.  He took off through the field, stopping when told to lie down, looking back towards me and pausing.  But getting up again to continue the flight.  While balancing the chicken between my arm and my body, I slipped my fingers into my mouth and blew the dog's recall whistle.  And surprise to me and my three girls....up over the ridge came a coyote girl...startled beyond crazy eye popping startled to find a person and three dogs and not the chicken she was hoping to take home with her.  She was so close I could have leaned to touch her and she jumped my Gyp who was at the end of the chicken handout line.  We all just about shrieked and then I knew......

When it comes to the male gender...food takes second place to a hot slutty girl!

The hunt for the dog continues...I'm thinking next time out we might consider taking a girl in heat.   Thankfully not one picture was taken from this outing...although my friend and I laugh every time we think of me walking through a huge field with three dogs and a rotisserie chicken.

What we won't do for love of a friend.....

Seize the Day!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Addicted to the Mob!

Yes indeed, I cut my teeth on The Godfather! "Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer".  When Winona Ryder became ill, I was so disappointed to see Director Coppola cast his inexperienced daughter in a major role for the third movie.... I digress.  After the Godfather trilogy, I continued with my mob obsession following the Sopranos and now the reality TV show Mob Wives.  Okay, not so much Mob Wives but still it is a fun brainless diversion to be had on occasion. That said, I have to confess...in keeping with all things MOB...I love working my girls on one.  A big mob of sheep just makes my day!

My mob love affair actually started with a birthday gift from Lana that included a sheep drive to a new field for grazing last August.  That was my first taste of the work and though Bella and I were not stellar, we held our own with encouragement from Lana.

Bella helping push Lana's mob to a new field for grazing 8/10
It's funny, when I started my journey with Snook 6 years ago....I would drive through the valley and think about pulling over, dropping the hot wire fence, sending my dog on a huge outrun to gather a big field of sheep, do a few sheds, call the dogs off, then up the fence and drive away...hopefully without a bullet whizzing by.  And here I am today, life imitating dream, and twice this past week, I did just that.  Dropped the fence, gathered a huge mob of sheep just as the Pratley was assembled, loaded trailers and then drove away.
Here is the field from my Friday gather....this field was along a very busy highway with two string electric fence so I opted for a well trained dog so I would not have any worries.  Bella was the dog for the day.

I sent to the left, with some heckling from my sheep friend, yet I had my reasons.  I was hoping that Bella would stay out and gather the whole field and not fall in on the first 40 as she had done in September.  She was looking good, and I had not walked the field so had no idea how deep it ran ....I thought I might be in trouble when I saw three sheep split the scene back up the field, leaving the large group Bella was bringing.  I lost sight of the entire flock due to terrain....so I started booking it up the field to see if help might be needed.  And what did I spy with my little eye....Miss Bella, cool as a cucumber, bringing the whole flock up the field to me. 
The lamb mob was pushed into the Pratley pen that fed a loading trailer that was filled with lambs.  What a treat it is to get the opportunity to work a big mob with a real job goal. My sheep friend said, "Looks like Miss Bella has learned to count"...and yes indeed she had not left a single lamb behind.

It is also fun to sort how life work impacts each of my dogs in their training.  Interesting to see how this little bit of mob work is deepening my Bella on her trial runs.  If I get the chance, I want to do a bit of shedding with the mob and get Bella comfortable coming in through big groups of sheep.  Makes me wonder if that might help with some of the shedding tension I am seeing. It is also nice to have "sheep friends" who are willing to give input on the work being done.  His eyes are seeing things that I have chosen to deny....or have not seen in myself and my dogs...... that little insight has been invaluable.

I'm looking forward to the next call and hoping the field is a little more secure with less traffic running by so I can use Gyp.  If not, perhaps Sally should have a go.  She is a little full of herself these days and I think a little real work with a mob of lambs might do her some good!  Oh the possibilities!  Life is GOOD!

With that in mind, I think I will go grab The Godfather and watch a bit tonight.  Tomorrow I will tell you exactly what has been keeping me from blogging........

Seize the Day!!!!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Winter Trials

I live in an area of the country, where if a girl does not mind driving, there are a plethora of one day winter trials available.  These trials are supportive to working some of the kinks out....those darn kinks that became apparent over the course of summer trialing.  I really love it when the trial is just a skip down the road, and even better when the day dawns crisp and mostly clear. 

As my friend says, Nell started the dance as the first dog to the post in open.  I do have to confess to my friends that care, I actually told Nell she was being "ridiculous" when she would fought me to let go of the pressure on a flank. The good news is, I did give her a correction then went to my "you are not doing what my command is telling" correction...and when I told her "this is ridiculous" she actually pulled up and looked at me like "whatt kind of command is that?" which got my flank.  I am trying to get rid of all nonsense talk from me...and there goes Nell, rewarding it.  That sure makes a girl laugh out loud from the post.

Bella was the next dog to run open. Yes, I slept with the running order under my pillow, studied it all the way to the trial, and thanks to those who love to tease me, got asked each time if I had the correct dog.  Bella looked real good......very tension free....however, I fell asleep at the wheel and forget how amazingly long the drives are on this field.  Bella, being new to open and having not seen a cross drive that utilized most of the width of the field, took my small 'correct the line flank' to mean we were done about 2/3rds through and that was a very costly handling error.  Good news was, she let me get her back together and finished her drive.  I am loving the relationship she is continuing to develop with me. Better step up to the plate on my end.

Sally was a good girl.  I left the field when she was struggling to shed a farm flock....Sally's Achilles heal.  I did not want to get mad at her for not coming through so we retired.  She tried hard and I really loved how she worked.  She does not know we did not get a score and that is all that matters.

Now I am fine tuning my list for Scott Glen.  I have one list for the shedding clinic, and another for each of the dogs I am working in my lessons.  Good thing about Scott is, this does not bother him.  I like his input as he is honest with me on my assessments and that is what I am looking for right now:  making sure I am reading the situation well, be it dog, sheep, training, handling.

Fabulous news is...this weekend, Little Horse Mountain Productions will start filming for the training courses that feature Scott Glen!  It is an exciting time to be working dogs!!!!

Seize the Day!