Monday, September 16, 2013


Once again, sheepdogs imitate life and I learn the lesson that, sometimes, life doesn't manifest exactly as the dream....but it's still great.

I got a call from the sheep boss last week asking for some help with a flock of sheep over on the coast.  See, the shepherd had a baby and that baby has him wrapped around her little finger leaving the sheep boss desperate for company....well, okay, truth be told desperate for some dog work.  When he called to ask about the gather....I envisioned a slope of green grass allowing for a big huge outrun  from my Gypster.  Or maybe a flat big field, sheep scattered, grazing pastorally as if just waiting for their cab ride home; either scenario giving Gyp some much needed work and experience.  "Sure, how about Sunday!"

 We got to the field after winding our way across the coastal mountain range that protects our valley from winter storms, the fall rain I have been praying for starting the day off cool.  The sheep boss informed me the sheep were right over that hill there, and my job was to gather while he and his sidekick started making the catch pen.  "How far back does the field go?", I naively inquired. "Oh about a half mile or so, you'll see 'em"....could I hear a smirk in his voice?  So Gyp and I broke up over the hill...meeting a small flock of ewes on the road Just as the thought tickled my brain that it was my lucky day.....the wise and crafty ewes high tailed it, as far as a docked tail can be high, running in the other direction; me, hoping they were headed back to the mother flock.  The field lay before me, a tributary off the ocean to my left and marsh grass taller than my waist covering it entirely, broken up only by blackberry bush hills and sheep paths.  Not a ewe in sight but heck, it was raining and cool...a good day to get my 10,00 steps in.  Gyp and I picked a sheep trail that would lead us up and around.....and as we tromped I felt like I was hunting with my Gramps as a young girl....spooking out that which we hunted....although this day it was sheep and I took the leadership Gramps role while Gyp was my wing girl. 

I died to a lot of thoughts that day....honest nests, ground yellow jackets, bears, as we settled upon a newly laid pile of berry scat by the body of a dead ewe.  Bears must be opportunistic as well as, hoping the bear was full because Gyp and I were  not interested in being an appetizer and meal on this fine, cool Sunday gather.  And so it was that we walked the entire meadow and drove the flock of ewes and the seven new born lambs that were on the ground that day to the catch pen. 

On the way home, Gyp and I stopped for a well deserved skinny caramel latte, I knew we had done well.  It might not have been what I dreamed of, but it was a job that needed done and so we did it.  As I scruffed her ear, I was thankful for this little dog that was not running open just yet.  She can work without me worried about any trial in our near future. 

And so indeed, sheepdogging imitates life......days where it is not the dreamed of living turn into something special; memories created from the magic of getting it done. 

Seize the Day!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Living Plans

Four weeks.....28 days.....672 hours......40,320 minutes......then I hit the road.  No more making plans, it is time to start living them! 

Bella's physical therapy appointments have the Ortho vet telling me to "start working her".  For the past week I've been jogging her with the four wheeler and taking long walks with her.  Afterwards, I stretch her out and give her a massage and let her ride up front as "truck dog" and I wonder if she will ever really be 100% because she likes the special treatment so much.  Back on sheep, Bella is full over herself with push, tight and stop-less intensity; so we shed.  Shedding seems to bring sense to all the clean up for Bella and it works me out too.  It's good to have her back!  I'm looking forward to my next appointment with the Ortho vet to see how my week of work have played out on Bella's body.

Nell is really fun right now.  We are working on her listening and me being accurate; no guessing for either of us! We are shedding too but I'm doing bigger, longer work as well. 

Then there is me; right about now the dogs ask for the key board as they have some things they would like to share.  I tell them to start their own darn blog but I listen.  Nell would say, "keep to the whistle program. They are getting better but loose clarity with fatigue"  So I work on my whistles, work on my physical stamina and health, work on my head and mental toughness.  Then I break out MapQuest and start planning my journey to and from The Finals.  Idaho, Montana, Colorado, Missouri, Kentucky, Virginia there.......home might include a quick stop in Indiana and then I fantasize about making a southern tour.  There are friends in Georgia, Texas, and Nevada I'd like to spend time with.  All the while, I visualize Bella coming into heat and sorting through my list of potential husbands, some of which could be visited on the way home, which expands the list!

All the while, life goes on.  My ranchette and livestock need attention, the barn needs cleaned, more hay to haul, and dogs to train.  I'm thankful for the rhythm of my ranch; consistent mixed with a tang of unpredictable....such a metaphor to life.

Time to live my plan....there are sheep to be shed....and whistles to be practiced......

Seize the Day!

Monday, September 2, 2013

Cinderella Story.....

Once upon a time, there was a PAC 12 college football team by the name of Oregon State University that was scheduled to play an FCS division football team by the name of Eastern Washington.  Though OSU tried to get out of the contract, EWU held them to the commitment and Vegas predicted a three touchdown gap in score at the end of the game with OSU stomping EWU.

Oh wait....this ain't no fairy tale....this really happened!  And so I take a break from all things sheepdog and mental management and take this blog into my life of the mom of a college playing football son. 

Year after year, we've been OSU fans, going to many football games and wearing Orange and Black.  Living in the Willamette Valley, our friends are either OSU fans or they are U of O fans and that rivalry is enough to keep life fun filled with lighthearted bantering all year long.  This year, as we attended the game at Reeser Stadium, home to the OSU Beavers, we were clad in Black and Red with Eastern Washington Eagles wear....our friend still invited us to tailgate and all were wishing Jake well....but you could tell they were sort of feeling part sorry and part proud to kick our butts around the field.

I love getting to the game early and watching my boy warm up.  I had one of those "mom moments"....watching my son realize a dream.  All those football games and dreaming of playing on the field at Reeser Stadium, and here he is, #82

The game began, we were seated at the far end of the end zone in the visitor's seats; not our usual seats by any means.  It was a hot day and we could hardly see the other end of the field....but we were Eagles and that meant something!  Every time we scored, I took a picture......I took lots of pictures!!

That was the final score......OSU 46 Eastern Washington 49.  I could hardly breath for the last 18 seconds of the game as OSU pressed down the field into what they hoped was field goal range. It was so close to going into over time.  What a great day......I was so proud of the Eastern boys, each of them giving all to make their team strong.

This is one of the reasons I love sports.  I love that fact that anything can happen.  Each team was well prepared, both went out and played well, neither gave up or quit.  On this day, the underdog (take that Vegas) won.  Somehow living a story like this gives me great hope. Train with focus, do the work, put in the time with passion, compete and never give up........

Seize the Day!!!