Friday, October 31, 2008

An election diatribe

Well, maybe "diatribe" is too harsh a word, but in truth, this won't be a touchy feely post.

First, let me qualify what I am about to write, by stating this: I am a registered independent, so what I say isn't rooted in an automatic slant (like so many others) toward my party. I chose the candidates on their platforms, and where they stand on the issues. Okay, now that the house keeping is done....

NPR- National Public Radio. This station has held a small amount of interest for me over the years, due to it's human interest stories- you know, coffee growers in Columbia being dis-enfranchised, or Mexican workers in the USA struggling to get by. I think it is important that we, (who by and large are not suffering the same level of dis-enfranchisement, and maltreatment) should learn, and keep abreast of these issues and try to affect change.

NPR is however, so completely and 100% anti-Conservative/Republican, it has lost any thread of respect I had for it. Let me illustrate why. In the past few months, I have made a point of tuning into NPR, because I wanted to hear quality, cogent discussions about the candidates running for office. This was not what I heard.

What did I hear on National Public Radio? A THREE HOUR diatribe on how the Republicans stole the election, not once, but TWICE. And, exactly HOW they did so. There was an author discussing the content of his book, which described for the reader how the Republicans stole the elections. The most popular method was to throw out (figuratively and otherwise) votes for the Democrats. Then there was the threats/menacing of voters- that got another big group out of the voting pool. Then, there was the tampering with voting machines. Then there was the making it impossible to GET to the polling location, and of course, the real biggy, not allowing folks to register. This DIATRIBE went on for THREE HOURS. It was then that NPR was dubbed NDR (National Democratic Radio) by me, and I have no doubt thousands of others. IF NPR indeed wants to represent the PUBLIC, there should have been equal time on the other side of the coin allowed by another author who had a different take on the situation.

Anyway, after listening (remember, I want to try and understand as much as I can about each candidate before I vote), all I can say is that this stealing of the election business, and how this conspiracy was propelled and run by the stupid Bush followers- which, if you think about it, is an oxymoron- how can a group be STUPID and also be able to pull of THE BIGGEST conspiracy not once, but twice?) I felt like I was listening to stories of Area 54 and the aliens that had been seen, but the govt hid. Were there ever aliens? Were there enough votes for Gore? Did the govt hide the evidence on the aliens? Did the Republicans hide the proof of their stealing of the election? I doubt we will ever know. I will say this though. IF the Democrats so strongly believed that they election was stolen the FIRST time, why on this green earth were measures not taken to ensure it didn't happen again? Why? because it didn't happen. That's why.

Another issue I have is with this not allowing folks to register to vote. WHERE HAVE THESE PEOPLE BEEN? You know, when I was a high school senior, upon graduation, we were not allowed to leave the building until we registered to vote. Now, I wasn't even OLD enough to vote, but I did. It wasn't even a Presidential election year, but I still registered. Why do people wait until weeks before the election to register? Do they now realize that this is a governmental process, and it will take time to get the paperwork settled? When you plan to travel overseas, do you plan to get your passport weeks before you go? No, because odds are there may be a hold up, and you certainly don't want to stay home because of a paperwork glitch. I have absolutely NO sympathy for the latecomers who complain they can't get registered. Get off your butt oh, I don't know, a few YEARS before the Presidential election, or be quiet- it's your fault.

It appears that Obama will win the election, and I don't necessarily think that that is a bad thing, ESPECIALLY if all the Area 54 fanatics will finally shut up.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Derek Scrimgeour clinic

A whole post devoted to JUST this clinic? You BETCHA! This was singularly the best clinic I have ever been to. I had heard good things, and murmurs of "dangerous ground", but I wanted to see/learn for myself.

I left at about 4 am on Tues to get to the clinic that was to start at 8:00. It rained all morning, but I was ready in my new rain gear. So, I donned my rain suit, and proceeded to watch the other clinic participants learn about dangerous ground. There were several very nice working dogs there, and each had their own "issues". I quite enjoyed seeing the dogs' brains click with his method. When it was my turn, I walked in with some trepidation, being that we were the only non-Border Collies there. Derek was quite a good sport when he noticed Lucy. We worked in the small pen as I was just not confident enough to have a wreck in the bigger field. I worked on Lucy's flanks, and keeping her further off her sheep. Lucy handled it well. Then, we broke for lunch, and had a smashing repast up at the host's home. It was a wonderful thing to be able to remove the wet rain gear and cozy up to the wood stove. It was then that we were able to chat with Derek and his wife (who is just lovely). We were regaled with tales of dogs, people, and just sheepdog work that made us laugh, and really get a feel for this man. He is such a likable bloke, and so wise, you just can't help but want to be there and learn as much as possible from him- whenever possible.

After lunch, the skies cleared. When it was our turn I took Lucy into the bigger field with some very very nice cross bred woolies. These sheep are just perfect for training clinics. Honest, not too light, and settled. They made teaching the dogs just so easy. I went into the field with my water bottle filled with pennies, because by GOD I was not going to have her ignore me, and God forbid zip the sheep. When I walked out there, I had nothing but that bottle, and my whistle. At one point, Lucy flicked her tail, got tight, and I hurled the thing in her direction. This got the point across. She was back into steady mode. Good. So, we worked on the basics- driving, fetching, flanking. On the fetch, Lucy is way too close to her sheep. It is something I never really worked on, because I never knew the importance of having distance equals control- see, profound, but fundamental. When Lucy is too close, she wears back and forth. Derek explained that this unsettles the sheep, and will cause them to thing that either the dog is weak, or is not to be trusted- neither of which we want. So, I worked on keeping her off, by ME taking the sheep from her, and then asking her for a walk up. Always ME in the lead position. By the end of the session, she was better, and I was happy that we had addressed this issue- as I think it is really the only thing holding us up from progressing to as far as I like.

Later that day (evening) we all went out to dinner. It was a nice meal, relaxing, and good company. I quite enjoyed myself. I made a quick exit after a group of us put our tabs together, because I still had to find my hotel. Fortunately enough, it was right off the expressway. I checked in, walked the dogs, and in for some good sleep. Kylie and Lucy slept well, and so did I. In the morning, a complimentary breakfast was delivered to my door- complete with hot toasted bagel/cream cheese, hot (wonderful) coffee, and fruit. I had already put the dogs in the car, so I could sit and enjoy a small breakfast before heading back to the clinic. What a nice touch that breakfast was.

I arrived back at the site and wrapped myself in a multitude of layers, for it was very cold. When it was my turn, Derek told me what he thought of that penny bottle, and that I shouldn't use it. I had my concerns that she would be bad- it was a crutch for me, but he believed that everything would be okay- and it was.

I went back in the field, and worked again on keeping the distance off the sheep. Lucy began to get it. I felt like I was putting a lot of pressure on her, but there simply is no other way to achieve this, and once we get this, the sky is the limit for how far we go.

After our the morning work, we all broke for lunch. Again, it was great food and good warm surroundings. After lunch, it was soon my turn, and I went out there knowing what to work on. Lucy was staying nicely off her sheep, but very very focused and keen, and even got some style going in her moves. The other participants remarked that Lucy looked very good out there. Amazing how a seemingly small detail changes just about everything.

At the end of our turn, I soon had to leave, because I didn't want to drive in the dark. I arrived home early evening, unpacked, and went to bed.

It was a great clinic all the way around. I will be going back to his clinics, for SURE.

Lucy made a good impression, I believe on Derek, and that was gratifying too.

I am stoked to work on what we need to, and keep upping her scope. Thank you Derek, you rock!

PS: I will put up some photos soon of my Lass and I working- when I get time :)

Sunday, October 26, 2008

A "full" weekend

What a weekend. First, there was Friday, wherein I worked Lucy. We worked a long time, and at the end, I sent her for sheep to pull off a set out person/dog. They were about done- the sheep, and they didn't want to go. Lucy didn't know what to make of it- maybe SHE was tired? Anyway, her head went down to graze. We ended when she came out of her funk. That worried me a bit. So, I made a mental note to work her again this weekend- to see if it was a "one off".

Saturday it rained later in the day. I stayed home, and made peanut butter cookies, and a nice roast chicken dinner. Cookies were great. Chicken etc., was great too, except for one little detail. I put the bird in upside down. I learned this by trying to get at the breast, and finding bone. DUMMY I am. Well, at least the breast meat was nice and moist :) The dogs all got some chicken in their dinners- I thought they might choke they downed the food so fast!

Sunday I worked Lucy again- not too long. I sent her, and at first the sheep wouldn't go- they can be fickle this new group. Not like the Dorsets who always look to run from a dog. Anyway, she had trouble moving them, and then she bumped them hard and circled. Ick. So, I got in closer (I started very far away). Then, I sent her, and again. What I learned is that no, these sheep don't move away easily, and Lucy has to remain completely focused as she comes in to Affect a change-that is, them moving off. Hmmm. Odd. I hadn't seen this issue before. So, finally, we got through that, by me having her down at the top, walk in a bit, and then down again, and then forward. It gave the sheep a chance to think about moving and Lucy time to think about how to do it. I don't see this as a fault in her so much, as an example of what can happen when you only work light not look at the dog sheep. So, now that we have access to the latter, I shall hope things move along well.

After we did that, I had to get the group out of the corner. Lucy has a bad habit of not sticking close to the fence coming in on the corner, and this not only does not pull sheep out of a corner, it smashes them against the fence ahead of them. Again, not something we work on. There was the added pressure of other sheep just on the other side of the fence from them, but still, we needed to get her to be able to do this. So, with the help of my friend (thank GOD for their help), I put Lucy on a leash, and had her walk around tight to the fence. Wouldn't you know? One ewe thought that she would face up Lucy. Great. Lucy did grip her nicely on her top knot. This happened more than once- as we did repetitions to get her comfy with this. At one point the ewe butted her- I felt the shudder of her head on my leg, and Lucy returned the volley without hesitation. Finally, we had the sheep moving out of the corner well. It is something that we will work on each time we work sheep- the proper way (stay on the fence line) to move sheep out. If you do that, they WILL move- otherwise, they have to fight, because you squished them up there, you ninny! I will give her credit. Lucy has never let any of this stuff knock her back. She's like me- lots of patience, but once you really stick it to me, I tend to respond in kind :)

Okay, that was long (PHEW!). Last thing for the day, I went and looked at property that I might be able to keep sheep on. It's about 12 miles from my house and very close to my day job. It will need to be brush hogged and fenced. I think we will work out the fence installation as payment for the first ? period of rental. It looks like a good place, and will allow me to stay close to home to work sheep. That will be good. The folks who own the place seem quite keen to do this, so we shall see :)

So, as you can see, quite a full weekend. I think I will rest well tonight!

Friday, October 24, 2008

BC folks- this dog needs YOU

He is listed on dogsindanger, and is in West Virgina- as of today he has 7 days left. He looks emaciated (an understatement).

Thursday, October 23, 2008

My kitten, er, cat

I brought him home just about a year ago. He was ostensibly obtained to help with my mouse problem in the attic. Ginger, my old kitty was never a hunter, and so, I thought I could pop him up there, and he would dispatch the disgusting creatures. No, he has never been in the attic. He was a bottle baby- fostered by some loving people before his eyes opened, and whomever they are- THANK YOU. He is just the most wonderful kitten, er, cat. I just adore him. Never thought I could love a cat like I do Ginger, and maybe I do love Ginger just a tad bit more, but not much.

He is very dog-like in his behaviour. He likes to lay with the dogs, sleep where they usually sleep when they aren't there, and beg for food like them. He stalks Ginger like Kylie and Lucy, and he is just generally non-cat-like.

He is also, at times extremely loving- on his terms. He is never unfriendly, but sometimes he just craves attention- usually when I am at the computer, or looking out a window...

He has a game he plays with me every night. At the end of the day I have to close up the spare room where the birds are, and that means he has to come out. When he sees me "coming for him", he skedaddles to either under my chair, or the hutch and rolls around so I can't get a grip. I used to think he was just being a pill, but now I know it is just his little game he likes to play on me.

Here is a video of our little evening ritual. Please forgive my constant "Meow, come on"- I didn't know how annoying my voice could be!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Tips on saving money

I have instituted a few changes in life style and spending, in an attempt to mitigate the high cost of EVERYTHING. Sometimes I wonder if it would be worth it to get a plot of land, and live off it. Everything is so costly these days. There simply aren't any bills that don't take big hits to your wallet.

Here are a few things I have done that have helped enough to let me breathe a bit easier.

First, I no longer purchase coffee out of the home. The prices just keep going up at the deli I stop at, and last I checked it was $1.75 for a cup of Jo. Doesn't seem like much, but when you calculate that it is a 7 day a week deal, That's $12.25/week, or $49.00/month, and is then $588.00 per year!!! That's no small chunk of change- AND that's for cruddy deli coffee. So, I purchase coffee from the local grocery store, and make it myself.

Second, I travel way less than I used to. Gas has gone down quite a bit, but even so, to fill up is almost $40.00 per tank. If I cut back on the travel, wherein I just go to work and a few errands, I can literally make it almost 2 weeks on one tank. Now, that is quite a boring existence, so I do plan for one trip a week to do something fun (work sheep), so that adds a little cost, but it keeps us all happy, and that's important. So, I have saved probably $20/week, or $80/month, or $960/year. Again, a huge savings.

Third, the animals. I have one dog who needs to eat grain free food. I have tried just about everything, but the only food he does well on is more expensive than I would like. I had put everyone on it, but have decided that since the others do well with a high quality grain included food, they will get that, and my other boy will get what he needs. This saves me about $15/bag, and that's two bags per month, so, $30/month, and $360/year. Of course it isn't all savings, because I have a couple of cats who get some premium cat food, but they don't eat so much ;)

I also shop around for my flea/tick preventative., has a great price on Frontline Plus- fully $5.00/month application cheaper than my vet office. That's seriously good.

Fourth, Electricity. MAN was I over spending on this. I got a bill in September of $195/two months. I about fell over. I generally have a bill no more than $80/two months, even in the summer cooling period. The electric company has raised their rates quite a bit, but still, that's just out of control. So, I instituted several changes.

First, I turned my computer off at night. Then, I kept the fish tank light off at all times. Then, I kept the tv off when I wasn't home. I always was good about leaving lights off, etc. So, imagine my glee, when I got the new bill, and it was $103.00 :) Small changes really helped.

One big change was a new furnace. Now, it was not like I could afford to buy one, but I just couldn't go through oil like I was. So, it's installed and working great. I also learned that the ductwork had separated the crawlspace, so I was pretty much heating the crawlspace, for what I estimate, based on the rust on the duct from sitting on the ground, was a couple of years. My house is so evenly warm now- I BET I will save LOTS of oil by addressing that huge waster of oil.

At the grocery store, I look for sales, and only buy what, and when I need. I may stock up if there is a big sale, but generally, am pretty austere in my list.

I feel like I have done a lot to mitigate my costs for living in this world. I hope that some day I can be a little bit free-er in my spending ways, but until then, I will stay on this track, and continue to look for more ways to save.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

You MUST be kidding

Recently, on a country western station I listen to, the subject of what mutton is came up. Neither dj knew for sure. One DJ said it was sheep, and the other said it was goat. They actually asked folks to call in and tell them. One person said it was really old sheep that had died. One person said it was an Irish dish. Then, the A student dj's looked it up in a dictionary, and learned that it was indeed sheep meat, but not lamb. Unfortunately, they didn't stay on track too long, because one dj then added that if it were a *really* old sheep, it was haggid- no, that's not a word, and no, that's not right. Haggis is a dish utilizing parts of sheep (not necessarily really old sheep). Maybe she meant "Hagrid" who was a character in the Harry Potter series? Who knows? But, the level of ignorance on this country station was, well, astounding.

Monday, October 20, 2008


Well, what's been going on? Hmm. Here's some vids of my Lass Lucy. Those who have seen Lucy, at ahem/cough/choke, her last trial, will hopefully be happily surprised that my lass isn't such a trash dog after all. See, I would NEVER trial a dog who didn't at least make be feel that we had a good chance in heck to actually do well.

Now, Lucy may not be a smooth running stylish dog, but what she lacks in style she more than makes up for in go to-it-ness, and just plain pluck and moxie. Who knows when we will trial again- I know it will be a long time, but then, I think the journey is where it's at- not the ribbons- at least not for me. Things that make my heart soar about her are just not the things you earn in trials, like:

Having a recalcitrant ewe hit and grind Lucy into the dirt, and Lucy coming back unfazed and in charge (demonstrated with a fair grip to her nose). This ewe didn't try anything with Lucy after that.

The time that a Scottish Blackface and her flock took off to the exhaust pen (this was practice) and all but one stopped several yards short of the exhaust. One made it to the exhaust. Lucy did what I have been told was all but impossible- she brought that ewe off the fence, and back to me- which might not seem like a big deal, except she brought that ewe PAST her flock and to my feet.

The time that Lucy had fetched some sheep out of the woods, and we worked a small group. When the trainer and I had stopped to chat, Lucy takes off and returns with three straggler ewes brought out from the woods- with absolutely no direction to do it, or how to do it by me.

The time that Lucy was working some cull ewes who were not well. Wouldn't be moved. I was told that "Lucy wouldn't move them" and they did. Grumpily, but they did.

The time that Lucy was sent in after Canada geese and stayed in that pond for almost 45 mins working those geese out- the water was 38 degrees.

I am sure there are more, but you see? These aren't trial stories. They are simply stories of a good dog, just doing good work.

For whatever reason, our trial season didn't end on a good note, but you know? That's okay. She's just one wonderful dog in my book.

Back to other stuff:

This weekend was the NY state sheep and wool festival in Rhinebeck NY. It was chilly in the mornings, but the days were beautiful. It was a time/point trial. Didn't have many handlers there, but everyone pitched in and worked to make it happen. Had lots of questions after the trials, and pretty much everyone who watched truly enjoyed themselves. I sure wish Lucy could have done something- not to compete, but just to work sheep. We'll get there.

This should be a quiet week, with leaf raking and house cleaning. Nothing major planned. That's just the way I like it :)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

New movie- psyched :)

Was watching Project Runway last night (Leanne won- I wanted Kortow to win), and a commercial for a new movie came on. The title is "Australia". This immediately piqued my interest. It stars Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman. Some scenes were quite reminiscent of the movie "Pearl Harbor". But, most of the scenes looked quite original, and it looks quite good. I think I even spied a Kelpie sitting between the two main characters as they drove along in a truck :)

Anyway, here is the "unofficial" trailer- looks good eh?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Oh my GAWD

Last night I heard the kitten (well, now he's a cat) on the bird cage. The bird cage is a large bird cage, big enough for a large parrot, that houses two run of the mill Parakeets- Lucy and Ricky. Well, anyway, I heard him on there, chastised him, but didn't look at what he was doing and then shut the door to that room and went to bed. This morning was the same as any other- uneventful. Anyway, I get home today, and look at the bird cage. OH MY GAWD. The top is completely open. The cage has a roof that has two sides, and they slide open so the birds can come and go, should you wish (I DON'T wish!). The birds appeared fine, but I almost had a heart attack seeing that. Thank goodness that the cat didn't get either of the birds. Anyway, I quickly shut the top, and will now, I suppose really have to check things out when I hear that darn cat on their cage...

Not feeling particularly energetic today. Too bad, because I could be doing leaves. Well, maybe not because I got a blister by raking last weekend... Yeah, any old excuse will do...

I am reading a book by James Herriot- entitled "Every Living Thing" which is a conclusion to his vastly popular series- All Things Great and Small...
It is very good, and I suppose I will be finished with it by the weekend. Just in time to find another book- but I am picky, so maybe I will make this one last....

Other than the above, that's it for now folks. No new dogs, no working dogs, no nothing, just boring old regular life.

Bad neighbors

I have a bad neighbor. How is he bad you ask? Well, the biggest problem I have with him is his complete lack of respect/courtesy for ANYONE around him. This lack of respect is manifested in his having to work outside and on his back hoe at oh, something like 9:00. EVERY SINGLE NIGHT, he goes out on the back hoe and tools around. GOD KNOWS WHAT he is doing. It would not be a big deal, except he does this not more than 30 feet from my house. It is a one lane road (and dead end). So, the noise thing is really an issue, and has been for 11+ years (enough to grate on anyone eh?). Then, there is his pig sty, aka yard/lot. He has taken over the entire road, both sides across from him (and abutting my property) all the way to the end of the road. He has piles of garbage, wood, metal, unregistered vehicles, you name it- and THAT'S just on the side of the road. Then, two years ago, he bought the land across from me, which used to be woods, which by the way, every year he cleared a little more, to put his crap on. Anyway, he cleared it, filled and and promptly placed his 1) Boats which are no longer water tight, and have been removed of operating parts for his other boats 2) At least 6 jet skis. An old oil tank, a broken hot tub, an old camping trailer, parts of broken trailers, piles of construction debris, and just general crap and corruption. It looks like a combination saw mill (minus the country charm) and salvage yard. Oh, lets not forget the multiple cars, all not registered. All of this is a mere 30 feet from my front door. It is EMBARRASSING. People who visit me actually feel BAD for me. Why, I even saw a couple of unsavory characters walk by- and THEY made comments about the mess. I honestly think I could win a contest for piggiest neighbor. Oh, and by the way, he doesn't have a real job (he is a handyman when he feels like working) and he lives with mommy. Nice, real nice.
I have dreams that one day that property will sink under the weight of all that crap. Dare to dream, I know.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Everything's cool, for now

It sure is nice to be back to normal life. All the dogs seem to be back in the swing. Lucy is back to her snotty ways with Nikke. But, this time, I think Lucy got the picture. I just won't allow that behaviour anymore, period. Sort of a zero tolerance attitude. I think I have finally learned, that Kelpies may need that sort of thing. Kelpies are not push over dogs- not hard headed, but surely have a mind of their own, and you need, unlike what I did, to rein them in as youngsters, or you fight with them all the way. Once you have that agreement for proper behaviour, you are Golden. Ah, the things we learn along the way.

I took apart my vacuum last night. The switch is broken and it won't shut off. I never did get the switch addressed- mainly took my time figuring out how to put the darn thing back together! The belt is also toast- that horrible smell, and a half eaten through belt- I have to get a new one. This vacuum, while it has great suction, is built rather cheaply. Bummer. I don't want to have to buy another. The carpet in the bedroom will be pulled up in the next month- mark my words. There is just no padding left under it, and it is something like 20 years old- it NEEDS to go. Now, what to do? Laminate? Carpet? Probably carpet, as it is cheaper than laminate. Thought I have even thought about Marmoleum, wherein it looks like wood, but cleans like linoleum.

I have to get the door back up on the crawlspace of the house- I don't want critters getting/staying in there. Imagine if a skunk went under there and sprayed. YIKES!

I am getting excited about the clinic later this month. I have decided to get to the town a night early, so I don't have such a long drive before the clinic. My body just doesn't kick into high gear after a long trip anymore. I think there is a restaurant at the hotel- but if not, we will do fast food- whatever, I just can't wait to learn from someone as great as Derek. Lucy has been working very well- it goes to show just how much she learned from her sheep boot camp. That lass seems to have matured a ton.
I hope that she maintains her calmness, and we aren't too embarrassed.

After the clinic there is one trial I would like to go to- and that is it for the year. I have decided that we will not be trialing anymore until I have solid whistles on her, and will run her in pro-novice, no more novice. I just think that we need to strive for open, or at least ranch before we get back out there. If that means that we don't trial again, for a looooong time, so be it. It takes time, but I do learn.

This weekend is the sheep and wool festival trial. I always look forward to this- a small trial, and everyone has a good time. Plus it is like 20 mins from my house- SWEET :)

Well, that's my update for now. I don't have any pics or anything interesting, but I am working on it.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Back to working my lass

I worked Lucy this weekend. It was a lovely lovely thing. I can't believe how much I missed working her. She is the bomb. At first, Lucy believed that the down, as in the action, was merely an adjective, to describe say, the weather? But, after we established that down was an IMPERATIVE, things went much much better. When Lucy's two parents got together, the gene for response to "down" was either left out, or sufficiently damaged, as to not allow this to happen with ease. I feel better now that I have blamed it on something OTHER than me ;)

We did lots of driving, and. Lucy is ripe for this work, and is even pretty square on her flanks. The sheep were moving calmly, for the most part, and that is the picture I have so longed to see.

At one point we took a break, and I sent Lucy to "get a drink" which means go get a drink- which to her means jump in the water tub. Well, she must have lost her footing, because she came back drenched- head and all. Too funny Lucy- are you cooled off properly now?

When we got home I proceeded to rake some leaves, and do some housework, followed up by vegging in front of the tv. A rather nice way to end a busy weekend.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

A great trial, and home with my girl

I went to the Leatherstocking Fall Foliage trial- the first of a three day event. I had heard about this trial, but never attended. Clearly, the glowing descriptions I have heard, were not over stated. On the way there, the absolutely stunning fall foliage- the reds, yellows, browns, it was just heaven. This part of NY state is, to me, just absolutely the prettiest place in the world. The fields are lush and green still, the trees with their leaves at their most beautiful, and the wide open expanses. I just had such a nice drive. As I got near to the site, I saw some very nice trial signs, hand painted I think with the obligatory BC stance. Nice touch I thought. Then, as I got to the site, a place I have been to once before, I was again treated with the splendor of the sweeping hills, well manicured fields, parking areas, and various fall touches, that the managers had put together. I got my chair, set up, and then offered to help out. I helped a bit by running scores, and scribing- in between video taping some runs that is.

The sheep were far different from the last time I was at this field. They weren't pushing to get to the lower left side of the field, and they were very reasonable. This brings up the holding/set out crew. Unbelievable. I have never seen sheep so NOT rattled, so calm, and ready long before they were needed. These folks could not have done a better job- period.

The dogs all had different issues on their runs. At one point on the drive away, several yards from the panels, many dogs had trouble. Current wisdom is that it is a dead zone- dogs just could not hear. The cross drive was quite long, and if you were lucky, you had energetic sheep who when on line just kept truckin', and if you could detect the depth, you were in. Some folks squeaked through, by resetting the sheep, when they were about to go just outside- that was some seriously good handling. It was great fun to watch. Of course, watching super handlers work their super dogs, isn't hard, no, not hard at all.

The food was great. The trial managers just so gracious, and made sure everyone was set with whatever they needed. There was a real calmness in the air at this trial. It was like nothing I had experienced. These folks knew what they came for, and knew how to handle their dogs. The dogs all stepped up to the plate. This is really pretty much a template in my mind, for what a trial should be like.

It was a looong drive. We got home at about 7:00, and I was spent. Lucy was too. Lucy spent some time moaning her comfort to me, and I stroked her soft ears a bit. Lucy is still pretty quiet, I suspect working for a living can make one very tired, especially a suburban wanna be worker ;) I am just glad my lass is home with me, and now I feel like our home is home again.

When I get around to it, I shall post some runs from the trial, but not today I am afraid- too much to do :)

Friday, October 10, 2008

I lack fortitude

Yesterday a woman I know was going to go see her dog that is in for training, same as my dog. She suggested I go and see Lucy. Bad suggestion (see title). So, I show up, and am still open minded about leaving my lass in the very good hands of her trainer.
I then go and hide myself, so I can watch Lucy working for her handler. Lucy does well- she's on the bit, but she is listening, and she is just plain working, no goofiness. I get wistful. I miss working her (well, I have BEEN missing working her, but now I REALLY miss working her. Toward the end of the session, Lucy must have caught wind of me, because she hopped up a bit to catch the whiff of my scent- to her credit she kept working. Then, they came up to me. Lucy slowly walked up, almost pretending not to see me. She got to me, sniffed me, and then rubbed her body along mine, just like a cat greeting it's owner. Then, she lay down next to me. It was all very subdued- not my googly Lucy ;) I then worked Lucy- that was very cool, and reminded me why I am wistful- maybe that's bad?

Our session was just doing basic stuff, but there are some cool things that made me proud of Lucy. At one point we had to get sheep out of the woods, and my trainer had her flank around to get them out. They came out and ran into the field. I asked for a lie down from Lucy, but didn't get it. We walked out of the woods, and over the small crest, here she came with the sheep who thought they might make a break back into the woods, further down the field. Good girl Lucy. You knew what those sheep were thinking. After we had our charges back with us, we worked a bit, just a little, and then stopped. I think we were chatting, and then Lucy booked off running fast- I didn't know what for- a squirrel? It was weird. Silence ensued. Then, out of the woods came three straggler ewes that Lucy remembered, or heard were back there. Now THAT was cool. We now had everyone and it was well done for my lass.

Then I had to begin prepping to leave Lucy there. Please refer to the title if you would like to skip to the chase. Yeah, I lack pluck. I have been very "off" with not having Lucy at home. I miss her at night, when she moans her last moan telling me what a busy day she had, I miss her in the morning, when she lays on my bed and I give her a pat, and she rolls on her back for a belly rub. I miss pretty much everything, and I ESPECIALLY miss working her on sheep. I hemmed and hawed and really gave it the college try. But, in the end, I loaded her up in my car when I left. I SHOULD have left her- she was doing well- and looked very good- settled and focused. It was my lack of fortitude, and that's just the bottom line. I am a wimp.

We got home last night, and Lucy had to re-establish to Kylie that she was "big sis" and Kylie was like "Oh great, the bitch is back". Once they got through that all was fine. It was just the initial greeting. I didn't sleep well last night- probably because I was extremely dehydrated from not drinking anything all day, and eating almost nothing, but I was greatly calmed by feeling my lass at my leg.

God how I love her.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Help this BC

Before I post my usual stuff, I want to have you all look at this video of this poor BC who has an undiagnosed ailment. It looks very much like a vestibular problem, or a cerebellar problem. It is very upsetting to watch, but I hope you readers may have some insight, so this dog can be helped.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

So, like, I hurt

Apparently my trek into the bowels of my crawl space yesterday was harder on me than I thought. I noticed a lot of bruises on my elbows and legs this morning- no biggy. My problem isn't the bruises, it's my back and legs. I feel like I was chewed up and spat out. I am walking with a noticeable list to the right, and my legs feel like I ran a marathon. Hm. I may not be doing that ductwork today. I may need a day to recover from my previous foray into the belly of my home...

On a brighter note, I hear it is supposed to warm up a bit over the next few days, which means no heat :)))) not only will I save oil, but Lucy should be more comfortable. She crosses my mind a lot, especially when I walk outside in the morning and see it is in the 30s. She has good room and board, but still, she's used to cuddling up to me on my BED for goodness sake!

Owning a home ain't easy

After work last night, I wanted to check the heat registers to make sure all were open. Since I had the new furnace installed, as I mentioned earlier, the airflow is HIGH velocity. So, a few were closed, and I opened them, easy enough, right? Wrong. There is one register in my bedroom that I could feel no air coming out of. I take the cover off, and see that the duct had fallen away from the opening- great. I also see two dead/dessicated mice laying between the register and the crawl space. GROSS. Okay, first things, first, let me get the duct screwed to the floor. After several cuts to my hands (I HATE sheet metal), and a few attempts, job done! Good, now to test the furnace. STILL no air. CRUD. I go in the furnace room, get on my hands and knees, look at about where the duct would be, and sure enough, it's detached. MAJOR CRUD.

This means I have to fireman crawl (you know, on your belly and have your elbows inch you along) into the crawlspace, amongst tons of insulation that the mice got a hold of- not to mention WHAT could be under there. But, I just went ahead. After much creeping I get there. The duct is laying on ground. I lift it, reconnect it, but NO, it won't stay. I look around for cement blocks, anything to put under the darn thing. No, nothing near, and given the time it took me just to get there, I ain't going to GET any. At this point I am starting to get a cramp in my back, and coughing God knows what. I decide to make my retreat, even though it GALLS me to no end to see my hard earned oil heating up dirt. I finally get out of there. God, it was a horrid thing. I come inside and wash up, but feel all that lovely insulation on my arms. I wash up the best I could, and got in bed. I think I needed a pill or something. It was just a trying thing for me ;) I am glad it was over.

Today though, I need to go back, and fix this. Plan is to don a Tyvek (tm) suit, complete with hood, and bring with me a strap/nails to support the duct, and some insulating silver tape to put around where they meet. If I still don't have air flow, I am HIRING SOMEONE.

Yeah, owning a home ain't easy.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008


After yesterday's meltdown (thanks sheepdoggal for your support), I made myself some of my pancakes for dinner, and that helped... I didn't get a chance to eat much during the day yesterday, and cereal just wasn't going to do it. They were very very good. I got an almost decent night's sleep, but when my furnace came on, that is, the blower- holy cripes- that things blows air so hard, I am afraid if my cats walk over the register they will be blown 10 feet up! Anyway, when that came on, I was awoken. I hate the sound of oil being used. So, I turned the thermo down to 52. Yeah, it isn't popular with the animals, but so be it. I need to save!

I got an update on Lucy last night. Things are fine on that front. I took out that horrid table I bought a few years back, and brought in the really really nice table from my sister's place. I finally have a piece of furniture that I love- how about THAT?! I even have chairs that will go with it- for now.

Later this month there will be way more interesting stuff to report- a clinic, getting Lucy home, a trial, you name it, but for now, just boring old life.

Monday, October 6, 2008

I miss my dogs, and just who I am.

Let me answer the last part first- just who AM I? Well, maybe it's better I say who I am not. Here's what I am not: A person who is looking to upset, or irritate others. I am also not someone who is thick skinned, therefore, if you are going to be really really mean to me, and you all know who are you are, please know that when you do that, you hurt me for a very long time. Sometimes, I never heal. All I end up doing is stashing myself away from humanity even more. That may be your plan, I don't know. I can't control other people, I can only control myself, and myself just ain't up to being treated in a rude, mean, or otherwise ill tempered fashion. Maybe I just ain't up to today's world. Maybe I just need a thicker skin. I don't know, but to those of you who come at me with nasty emails, or comments please, keep in mind that the person you are attacking has feelings, and well, may just not be up to fighting the fight anymore.

I miss Cori. I keep looking at the spot where she always lay. I keep looking at her collar. I keep wondering if I was right to have her euthanised and not give her just a few more days. Cori, I am so sorry girl. I miss you so much. This house just isn't the same.

I miss Lucy. I miss her joyful grin, and her let's do it attitude. I miss our time together on sheep. I just miss being around her. I never thought it would be so hard. Well, it is. I know it is good for you, but it doesn't make it easier on me. Something tells me that it would be good if someone would just put me in a coma for the next month, and then I could wake up not having the view of putting my Cori down forever emblazoned in my mind, and I would also have my Lucy back.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

How can you run out of those?

This morning I had moved my car so that the person installing my furnace could park his van in my driveway. As I moved my car forward, I looked at the house. I saw green blotches- YUCK. Apparently, the pollen/who knows what? is attaching itself to my pretty new siding. It is gross. So gross that I immediately got my scrub brush, and the hose and started cleaning it off. It came off very easily, but since the whole house should be done, I figured I would finally just BUY my own power washer. I go to home depot and see a few of them, and one small electric one flanked by HUGE gas powered ones. I soon learned from a salesperson that they don't have any more of the electric ones. NONE. Great. So, that stinks. I will see if I can borrow one from my family... I did get the majority of the green off, so it looks better, but now I want to give the whole house a wash.

Since was already out, I decided to get the cat food I needed, stop and take some pics of a field, and also head to the dog food place. Oh, I also got gas for the mower- for one last mow job this year, so it will be easier to rake. Oh, and I picked up tin foil- I can't believe how expensive THAT is now. Everything is just out of control.

Since the furnace isn't installed yet, it is cold in my house. I woke up to 55 degrees. It isn't HEINOUS but it is chilly. That's the temp I want to keep it at all winter, but I don't know if I can. Right now, I'm fixing to turn on and open the oven for just a little heat. Fall is nice, except for the cold temps. I also spent a fair amount of time worrying about Lucy. I sure hope she is warm enough. She has very little hair on her... Well, better put that out of my mind....

Friday, October 3, 2008

Weekend here we come!

And, there's nothing planned. BOOORING. Well, when you are under an austerity budget, there aren't a whole lot of options. One thing, I don't get exhausted under the weight of all the fun. That's okay, I don't want to strain myself ;)

There are a few things I need to do this weekend- have to head up to the vet's to get some chow for Ginger, and since I am there, take shots of the new field for the sheep/wool festival. I also have to stop at my parents for dinner on Sunday- that will surely be nice.

I plan to get lots of cleaning done this weekend, and just neatening up. Perhaps my furnace installation will be finished. Speaking of that, it sure has been cold at night. Tonight it's supposed to be 38 degrees F!!!!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The road less traveled

It has come to the fork in the road. Which road do I take? Do I take the road well traveled and select a nice Border Collie to work on sheep, or, do I take the road less traveled, and select a nice Kelpie?

Robert Frost
The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both

And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could

To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,

And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;

Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.

Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,

I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh

And, here's the "quote" that is so oft used, and is much more concise:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

You may wonder why I would quote Frost here in a Kelpie diary. Well, it is quite apropos. I have for some time now been looking for a second working dog. It would be nice to have two dogs to work, and now that I have gotten a better feel for what I believe is important in a working dog, and under the tutelage of some stellar mentors, I have begun my search. There are so many well bred Border Collies out there, and I have met some seriously "good people". I've no doubt whatsoever, that should I chose a well bred Border Collie, and maintain my learning curve under these stellar trainers, then I would be very successful. The working Border Collie is still by and large well equipped to serve it's master very well both on the trial field, and at the farm. I see this every time I watch them work. Sure, not every dog is destined for greatness, but most are pretty decent dogs. I never tire of watching them work- their finesse, their listening ears most always engaged, and that lovely style. It's just remarkable.

Alas, if it were that easy. Perhaps it is the rebel in me. Maybe it's just my stubborn streak. No, not that. Something has been niggling at me for some time now. Something about the Kelpie. Something about this breed has me well and truly stuffed. I have not seen many Kelpies work. I have only seen in person just a few. I have seen many more on video. I have logged countless hours on the phone speaking with live Kelpie legends. Kelpie breeders that have been breeding Kelpies longer than I have been alive. The conversation is always a good one. I really identify with their goals, their picture of an ideal dog, and basically, I come off the call stoked. Ready to work and be optimistic.

Something about the Kelpie. The way they seem to know what to do, and don't need to be told what and when to do it. What they lack in "style" they more than make up for in getting the job done with as little instruction as necessary. The comparison of the Border Collie and Kelpie, which I used to fall into doing, is pointless. On one hand, I believe that they are very similar, but on the other, I believe they are so different. Of late I have heard people say things that could be considered derogatory toward the Kelpie. My response is this: I have seen all the same "bad" things caused by Border Collies as I have Kelpies. The goal in these sheep dog trials is to get those sheep to me efficiently, and with a cool control. To get them around the course calmly, and without undo help needed. To be able to pen/shed/single with aplomb. It isn't about having a coated blk/white dog doing it with lots of whistles, or a short coated red/tan dog doing it with lots of whistles. It's about getting the work done, and being proud of a job well done.

I have seen Kelpies bust through the top. I have seen BC's bust through the top. I have seen Kelpies unable to lift sheep. I have seen BC's unable to lift sheep. I have seen Kelpies lose it at the pen. I have seen BC's lose it at the pen.
That's just it. In a trial we are tested. We get to see where we are, or where we are not, and we are not there to prove that any dog is better than the next. Humbling? Sure. Good for us? YOU BET.

There aren't many Kelpies (if any on the east coast) trialing in open usbcha trials. Some day, I hope that changes. If it were me and a Kelpie, that would be neat, but honestly, I would applaud anyone who made it there; who took the road less traveled, and not only met the challenge, but surpassed it.

So, in closing, it is finally clear. Kelpies and me will always be synonymous, and someday I do hope we move up through the ranks, and dance the dance. Some day.