Sunday, November 30, 2008

Sunday, day of eating, I mean, rest...

This morning I awoke well refreshed after a pretty good night of sleep. I say "pretty well" because Ginger has been snoring really loudly lately, and it wakes me up. I have to give her a nudge, so she will stop.

Anyway, I hit the grocery store, dropped off my purchases, and headed out to watch more agility. I wasn't there too awful long, but they sent me home with a bunch of eggs, and a giant pan of apple crisp. I LOVE apple crisp.

When I got home, I made my what is turning out to be, signature Sunday meal- steak, potato, veggie. Then I had some apple crisp for desert. Oooooh, it's so good!

Oh, one interesting thing- when I got home from the trial, I heard a commotion in the ivy bed in my front yard. I look over, and there is a hawk with something in it's clutches. I ran in and got my point and shoot camera, and here are a few pics.
I for the LIFE of me can't identify it. It is not a very small hawk (so that rules out things like the Sharp Shinned, or Cooper's) and it is basically slate blue in the wing, crown of the head (rules out the Red Tailed). I took my Field Biology class with none other than Heinz Meng, who was named the Audubon Man of the Year- he is internationally recognized for single handedly re-introducing the Peregrine Falcon back to the North East after having almost lost it completely due to the use of DDT. He knows more than any other person I know about Falcons and Accipiters. He also does Raptor re-hab, and for one class we were brought along on a release. Cool eh?

Anyway, if you can identify this bird, please let me know. I know they are bad, but I didn't want to scare him into releasing his hard earned prey (a red squirrel). As it was, when the darn thing finally died (I think he squished it, and at one point bit it's head), he flew off with it.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Aaaah, Agility

Today I went to an agility trial held at a horse farm 5 mins from my house. I wasn't entered, but since it was so close, I thought I would re-connect with old friends. It was a very nice time, and I got a bit wistful, remembering all the fun times I have had running my girls in agility. I actually think I may get back into it as a sort of side line. First thing in the morning I ended up scribing for masters pairs- no biggy, but I forgot what the hand signals were, so I had to use the crib sheet (that's embarrassing). After that we chatted with some friends, and then I ended up grilling hot dogs and hamburgers for the attendees. After that I brought Lucy in to watch a bit. She was mildly interested when she saw a dog run up the teeter, but not like Kylie or Nikke are. I think she was wondering where the FREAKIN' sheep are??? Well, Ms Lucy, no sheep today! We have to broaden our horizons! It was a bit chilly, but we had blankets and propane heaters to keep us warm.

I think I will get back into it.... Maybe sign Lucy up for a winter class somewhere... But, I won't run her on concrete with matts, so that may limit us. I am sure Kylie would love to play again- and maybe if I can keep Nikke sound- she can do it too :) I am really glad I took the break. I needed it. I am not ultra-competitive, and when things start becoming all about the "Q" I am SO outa there!

Weather forecast calls for snow tomorrow (BAH HUMBUG). I may go back and help at the trial tomorrow, or I may just stay home and veg.. We shall see :)

Hope you are all having a nice weekend!

Friday, November 28, 2008


Paste this link into your browser- I don't know how to link this here. Warning, these are graphic photos. This person starved several dogs to death, including a Border Collie, Rottweilers, and others. He ran a boarding/training facility.

Sick. Twisted. Just evil.

At cruelty pretrial, dog owner in gallery shows his disdain

Published:Friday, November 14, 2008

Gallery: GRAPHIC PHOTOS: Kennel Raid

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Steve Croley

Tom Siesto and his wife, Liz Raab with a tin containing Nitro’s ashes. The Rottweiler weighed 50 pounds when cremated; he weighed 105 pounds when taken to High Caliber K-9 in late June for obedience training. His owners said they paid more than $2,000 up front for the training and dropped him off with more than three months’ food and vitamins.

By Patricia Meade

Defendant Steve Croley must come to trial next month with a financial statement.

YOUNGSTOWN — A New York man whose dog, Nitro, starved to death at High Caliber K-9 held up a small decorative tin in municipal court and shouted, “Here’s Nitro!”

The tin contains Nitro’s ashes. The Rottweiler weighed 50 pounds when cremated; he weighed 105 pounds when taken to High Caliber K-9 in late June for obedience training. His owners said they paid more than $2,000 up front for the training and dropped him off with more than three months’ food and vitamins.

Steve Croley, who is accused of starving dogs at the Coitsville-Hubbard Road business, didn’t turn around at the outburst in the court’s gallery Thursday. He stared straight ahead during the commotion.

Judge Robert A. Douglas ordered Nitro’s owners, Tom Siesto and his wife, Liz Raab, who was crying loudly, to leave the courtroom. The judge warned those who remained to keep quiet.

Croley, 37, who resided at the business he operated, was in court for a pretrial hearing. He is charged with noxious odors, an exterior property violation and four counts of animal cruelty.

Two security guards were positioned in court out of concern that the proceeding might be disrupted. Several animal lovers who came to support Nitro’s owners cried softly but there were no further outbursts.

Judge Douglas set the trial for Dec. 18. He ordered that Croley come with a financial statement.

When taken into custody Oct. 22, Croley told a representative of Animal Charity, a humane agency on South Avenue, that he could not afford to feed the animals. Seven dead and 12 starving dogs were found at the business.

High Caliber K-9 offered kenneling, obedience and guard dog training. Since the arrest, dog owners have come forward to say they paid Croley in advance.

After court, Siesto and Raab, both 50, said they will be back for Croley’s trial. The couple lives in Queens, N.Y.

Holding the tin, Siesto said he wants to let people know how the poor animals at High Caliber K-9 suffered.

“This man did this,” Siesto said of Croley. “I’m very disappointed today. I thought this monster would have admitted what he did — he’s a coward.”

Of the dead dogs, Raab said: “We’re their voices.”

Croley was kept in a back room next to Judge Douglas’ court until the hallway cleared. Guards directed people away from the elevator, reserving it for Croley and his attorney, Heidi Hanni.

A red SUV picked Croley and Hanni up in front of the courts’ building on Boardman Street.

Croley was originally arrested on 19 counts of animal cruelty, but only four were actually filed. City Prosecutor Jay Macejko determined that the High Caliber K-9 property was illegally entered by representatives of Animal Charity, who used bolt cutters to cut a fence. The four counts relate to dogs seen before the fence was breached. The prosecutor said had he been called, he would have obtained a search warrant.


Those were the words we used to describe our Thanksgiving Feast. Seriously, I knew it would be good, but this was almost dangerous. The Sweet Potatoes were more than delicious. The stuffing was stupendous. The Turkey was TO DIE FOR. The mashed potatoes were marvellous. It was just all so extremely great. Then there were the pies. I don't know if there are appropriate adjectives to describe them. The crust of the apple pie was flaky and light, the apples had just the right amount of spices. The Pumpkin pie, again, was just wonderful. What a distinctly wonderful Thanksgiving.

Later today Lucy and I worked sheep. Seemed like the only thing to do when I know I needed exercise, and Lucy surely (always) wants to work.

We worked those odd-ball Cotswolds. They are just funky. The don't just move off a dog. No, not these ladies. They are lazy. They wait to see what the dog has before they move off. We worked for a good while, with breaks. The Cotswold sisters were getting perturbed. Now, the other sheep were fine. No dog was slicing, or gripping, but they just were not "into" it. For the first time that I can remember, Lucy sped the sheep up, using just her presence/eye. The cool thing is that she did it when I asked, and another time, one CW decided to challenge her- that's when she pushed slowly forward and got her going. All nice and calmly.

Later we worked on some practice for penning, and then we worked on pulling off the fence. Now, Lucy has had trouble getting between sheep and a fence- you know, squishing through. Corners not so much, as she has space, but when they run along a fence, Lucy quite literally has to smoosh up into their butts/flanks. So, today she did.

Toward the end of the work, we worked on pulling off of their friends in another pen. This is when the CW sisters are at their worst. They will stop, they will stand, they will stomp and they will hit. They don't want to leave there. I had Lucy going both directions. At one point she pulled them off, and the CW sisters turned and stared at her. You know, I can't imagine what I would do, as I am a lover, not a hater, somewhat like Lucy... Anyway, Lucy held her ground, and when one went to hit her, she nailed her right in the nose,pushed her back and stayed her ground. Then they ewes turned away. They seriously needed that.

Lucy wishes the sheep would just please move along. She is one of those dogs who can and will grip, but she would like to try for diplomacy first. The CW sisters don't know from Diplomacy. I wish I had gotten a picture of her handling that ewe who charged her. I used to worry about Lucy's confidence when working sheep like this, but I think at this point, her confidence is upped each time she wins- which is every time now. She's old enough to really have to work the sheep she has, and she's smart, and fit enough to do it. I hope that having gone through the work of this, Lucy will have the power just emit from her, and there won't be any hesitation by the CW sisters :)

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Well, tomorrow's the big day. Turkey day, eat too much day, do lots of washing of pots and pans and china and crystal day. Basically, a day filled with lots of stuff, and most importantly, getting some good down time in with my family. Can't wait! I shall bring my point and shoot, and therefore, you can all see what I have been talking about!

Today we worked sheep. Something about a Holiday coming- it's good to get it off on the right start. It wasn't too chilly, and no precipitation- that's good for this time of year! I worked Lucy with a mix of sheep, and things went well :) We have been working on lots of straight on walk ups, using her eye, remaining steady. It's something that she does well, most of the time, but sometimes she doesn't, and we need 100% correctness on this, because when sheep see dogs take their eyes off them, and flank, that signifies to the sheep that either that dog is a) weak, or b) has something nefarious planned, or c) is nuts. None of the above is conducive to moving sheep effectively. I am somewhat to blame for this, because it's something I didn't really ever focus on, because the sheep moved off so easy. Well, maybe SOME sheep will, but not all.

After a bit we worked some lambs. Now, I was filled with apprehension. They hadn't been worked by dogs. Lucy handled them very well. She didn't zip them, she did some great covering, and basically, just handled them like she would other sheep- just a bit more carefully, because lambs you know, don't always know WHERE they want to go. There is also something extremely cool about sending a dog to fetch sheep, and having the sheep just look at the dog, honestly not knowing what they are supposed to do, and the dog taking their hands, so to speak, and teaching them that they should move off, and go where needed. It is very very cool. She had no troubles at all with these wonderful lambs. Good for you Luce!

I took a couple of pics of Lucy today.

This first shot is Lucy on her perch, trying to see the action, the best she can.

This shot I have decided to call "At the Ready"

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

We were Country When Country wasn't cool

Yeah, that's us, our family. This little ditty by Barbara Mandrell (with a little help from George Jones). The town we grew up in is now considered "Cool". Back then, it was known as the dead zone. Nothing going on. One light, one grocery store, one Pharmacy, and one family restaurant. Now there are several Pharmacies, the A&P is out of business, and the family restaurant has been replaced by an Indian restaurant. Cripes, I think there is even a Sushi restaurant now. People remark how they LOVE that town. OH MY. So, it's a cool town. Big whoop.

Things sure have changed, for the better? I don't know, but I certainly know, my family and I were country, when country wasn't cool.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Monday before a Holiday :)

Thanksgiving is finally just about here. It's my favorite (and my dog's) Holiday. The food has always been good. Yep, my entire life I have eaten at the same place, same time, and the same food, and every single year I look forward to it with extreme anticipation, mixed with a major need for sweet potatoes, stuffing, turkey, and apple and pumpkin pie (among other items). I help out each year, along with my sister, and now my nephews have gotten their hands in too, by pulling the bread apart for stuffing, and helping with rolling out the dough for the pies, as well as peeling those apples. It's really a lovely affair. Some how my mother puts it together each year so that everything is ready at the same time, and everything tastes perfect. I think I may have gotten some of her good cooking genes, but she really is unsurpassed in the cooking/baking department. She also makes some KICK BUTT Norwegian cookies- which take real skill, and patience (I don't have that gene). I shall have to get pics of the spread this year just so you all can see what I am talking about...

Yesterday I decided to shoot some pics of November at my place. In the tree shot, can you spy the Mourning Dove? Every year about this time, they start hanging around my house, sitting on that branch, willing me to put the bird feeder out.

The next shot is just an obligatory of Lucy chewing her new Nylabone

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Down time

Today we didn't work any ovines. Just worked in the house, hit the market and chilled. Made a nice dinner for myself, with leftovers for the dogs. I did get a call from a friend who is concerned about her dog being afraid of the teeter totter in agility class. Apparently the trainer who is running the class believes it appropriate to drag said dog over the teeter totter and force him to face his fears. Yeah, THAT will work. Now she has a dog who hides under chairs in the room- won't do agility at all. Great. Nice job "trainer". When a dog is afraid of something you need to gradually work up to the dog accepting this new object in his life. Lucy was afraid of the teeter at first (she ran off the end when it was in the air). I simply employed my tried and true techniques for teaching her that the teeter is not scary, and that all good things come from it. This was AFTER I took the pressure off, and allowed her to realize that agility was still fun, and we could ignore that scary teeter. This dog could very well be soured to agility now. My suggestion to her was to ix nay on the teeter for now, and if the trainer tries to bully her, then leave the class. I will teach her what she needs in agility. Sheesh.

Had a bad night last night. I saw a tumor on my old kitty's gum- right where her upper canine sits when the mouth is closed on her lower jaw. Majority of these are cancerous, and I just So, I cried for about an hour, then pulled myself together. Will call the vet tomorrow. Wish I could get a vet to come here- she hates the car ride so much. Maybe I will try that.

Ginger is my heart and soul. Crying just typing this. Well, no sense in borrowing trouble, will get to the bottom of it this week...

Saturday, November 22, 2008

A cooooooool day

Okay, what is happening?! It was SIXTEEN degrees this morning when I left to go work sheep. Some times I wish my car didn't have an outside thermometer built in. It's sort of nice not knowing how COLD it is when you are heading to a place that's normally cooler than your own....

Today I gave Lucy a break from the ewes that are a bit vexing to her. They are a bit different from that she is used to, and that means training her on them can be fraught with stops and starts- as she figures them out. In other words, I just wanted to take away one difficulty for her. I also brought out my penny bottle- to reinforce my "you will take the downs" mode.

Lucy worked very very well. I was especially happy with how I had her fetch the length of the field, she brought them up, took the downs I asked, we turned the imaginary post, and she drove them a good distance away- the longest ever- almost out of hearing range, and I was able to ask for and get good clean driving flanks. Wow. That is so nice to see.

Later I worked with my friend. We had her pull of a person, which we haven't done in a bit. The first time I sent her was PERFECT. No, not exaggerating, just simply 100% correct, and without me needing to whistle once. So, I moved a bit, and sent her again- this time not so good. She didn't come straight on to them, and then they couldn't get where she wanted them to go- she flanked side to side. That wasn't good at all Ms Lucy! But, it goes back to her concern I think of the holding out person. We just simply have to work me downing her nice and deep at the top and not allowing any flanking as she comes in, period. Sort of like the down requirements. Lucy is not afraid of the sheep- anyone who has seen her deal with a charging sheep, or raring to get in with ornery sheep know that- she simply has to build up the technique of using a bit more eye, and less side to side motion. Derek said this in our critique, and I have been working on it. It is coming along well, just need more work.

Then, as we chatted, the sheep ran up the field to the top of the hill where their buddies are. The easy way to send is to the left, as there is lots of room to come in, and then scoop off the fence, and bring to me. Well, upon instruction, I sent her the hard way- away to me. The sheep were all near the gate where their friends were ensconced safely away. Lucy took off with good speed/confidence, stayed along the fence, and as she got closer, the sheep all turned to look at her. Now, she is coming up a hill, sheep are staring and she has to move right into them, along the fence, stay calm as they move off to the left, cover, but not over flank, and bring them to me calmly. That's just what she did. Wow. My how she has matured. It pretty well made my day.

On the way home it took some time to warm up a bit. I stopped and got a sandwich for my meal for the day, and am still trying to get completely warm. It may take until tomorrow, I am afraid.

So, in closing, it was a very cooool day- both in temperature and sheep work :)

Friday, November 21, 2008

YIKES it's cold!

Sixteen degrees this morning. WOW. That's EXTREMELY cold for November. Me thinks my plan of using much less oil may have a fly in the proverbial ointment... Darn.
Well, one thing, is the dogs complete their morning constitutionals in record time, no lolly-gagging around for them! I would like to work Lucy on sheep this weekend, but man, it's cold out there. She is fine, but I get chilly- especially if their is wind.
We'll see.

I cannot WAIT for that movie "Australia" to hit the screens this Thanksgiving- I am SO there. I LOVE epic movies, and this has gotten very good reviews, as well as teaching me a bit about Australian history, so, right up my alley!

Today I would love to walk around the mall, and shop- hee hee- if I had any $$ I would :) I will have to do as usual, and ear mark items in catalogs to "some day" buy, which means never. Oh well. Some day, maybe three years from now? Things will be much better. Just gotta hang on until then.

I have purchased a more affordable food for the Kelpies (not Tucker, he gets Taste of the Wild- it's the only thing he does extremely well on), and they seem to be doing well. I can get 35 lbs of this food for $27.00, and that's a HECK of a lot better than the 20 lbs for $26+ for the California Natural I was buying. PLUS they seem to look very good on it.

Kitten was FUNNY last night. He was being bad and scratching at my lazy boy chair (which Ginger started, so I can't blame him). Anyway, I yelled at him to stop, and Kylie, my enforcer ran up and stopped him- she's helpful that way :) Anyway, he stopped, and body blocked her. As if to say "Oh, you don't scare me- take That!". Then, he ran into the bedroom; ran right up to Nikke, and rolled on his back and started pawing her feet. He's one Cheeky fellow that kitten. To top off this antics last night, as I walked into the spare room to check something, he was sitting on a dog crate- saw me, leaped off, and came right to in front of me, and rolled onto his back and flailed about- it's his usual game (see previous post). He purred along as he did this flailing. Too funny. When we were all settling in for the night, he got right between Kylie and Lucy and curled up and went to sleep, sleeping with his pack. Someone forgot to tell him that he is a cat.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Bet you didn't know that a dream of mine is to be a singer. I have a decent voice, but like Lucy at trials, I lose it a bit with an audience ;)

I love to sing to the radio (bad, I know, not good for your tone, but I can't help it). There are a few songs I absolutely have to belt out, here are a couple of them

This next one makes me cry every time I hear it; it is just beautiful

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

For your viewing pleasure....

Just some of my favorite pics :)

ALERT: Pork Products from China

Those of you who don't know, should. Do NOT buy anything for your dogs from any other country, especially China. There are serious problems with poisonous additives being added (Melamine was in the news recently- added to baby formula). This newest information was posted on: Please read.

So, when you are looking for dogs treats, say, Pig Ears- look at the bottom back of the bag, and see that it is made in the USA. That in and of itself is no guarantee of safety, but buying from China rolling the dice on your pet's health, that's for sure.

ProMED-mail is a program of the
International Society for Infectious Diseases

Date: 17 Nov 2008
Source: Epoch Times [edited]

Clenbuterol food poisoning was reported in
Jiaxing City, Zhejiang Province. Since 10 Nov
2008, 70 employees of the Zhongmao Plastics
Products company in Jiaxing have been diagnosed.
A pork dish served at the Zhongmao cafeteria
lunch meal was identified as the source.

A Chinese hospital doctor, Hao Jun (alias),
confirmed to The Epoch Times that the patients
shared similar and obvious symptoms: palpitation,
nausea, vomiting, dizziness, chest tightness,
uneasiness, shaking, trembling, weakness, and instability.

Hao said, "Some patients have been seen at the
hospital. More than 20 patients suffered from
severe poisoning. Others were seen at other
hospitals. Most patients have been released.
Those who were in critical condition have also
been stabilized, although the side effects are yet to be observed."

Dr. Hao Jun indicated that clenbuterol is an
asthma medicine. It will speed up the catabolism
of fat in pigs if used in pig feed. It will also
enhance the lean meat and muscle in pigs. It is
heat stable and will not decompose until it's
heated to over 172 C. Therefore, cooking will not
eliminate clenbuterol toxicity. It will
accumulate in the human body through ingestion.
Long term consumption will lead to malignant
tumors and pose particular danger to patients who
have high blood pressure or diabetes. If the
intake is excessive, the poisoning can be life-threatening.

Dr. Hao mentioned that because one of his
relatives owns a pig feed company, he was made
aware of the "secret" about pig feed additives.
Clenbuterol added to feed will not only shorten
the growth time but also increase the sale price.
Growth hormone is also added. Poison chemicals
such as arsenic have also been added to enhance
the redness and shine of the pork skin and hair.
Some might even add tranquilizers or sleeping
pills to make pigs sleep. Long term consumption
of pork adulterated with these feeds might lead
to retardation. The hormones and chemicals could
also endanger lives and lead to many illnesses.

"It is not realistic to expect the public [to] be
cautious. The critical point is the monitoring
mechanism of the government," Dr. Hao expressed,
"The government's response has always been the
same: "The case is being investigated, and
sanction is warranted." However, it always ends
with no action. Therefore, those who committed
the crime have nothing to fear. I believe there's
some sort of collusion and conflict of interest
between the business and the officials."

Pork containing clenbuterol often has a bright red skin with very little fat.

According to partial data, since 1998, there have
been at least 18 clenbuterol food poisoning cases
in China. More than 1700 people have been poisoned, with one confirmed death.

Between 8-18 Oct 2008, there were 3 food
poisonings confirmed caused by clenbuterol in pork meals in Guangdong Province.

During September 2006, a series of food borne
illnesses occurred in Shanghai and sickened more
than 300 people. These were confirmed to be
related to meals with pork or pig intestines
containing clenbuterol. In June of the same year,
employees of a hotel in Foshan suffered from
clenbuterol food poisoning. Also, hundreds of
workers in a glass factory in Guangdong Province
were poisoned by meals containing clenbuterol in May 2006.

Hao Jun emphasized, "Considering the infant
formula food borne illness [melamine poisoning],
and the massive incidences of poor food quality
and safety, problems in China's processed foods are increasingly worrisome."

[Byline: Xin Fei]

Communicated by:
HealthMap Alerts via

[It is well known that clenbuterol is a metabolic
stimulator resulting in a lower fat level. It is
illegal to use in livestock in the US.

Clenbuterol is also used as a bronchodilator in
human patients and illegally used as a weight loss stimulant in humans.

Although the mechanism is not understood,
clenbuterol in swine can and does seem to cause problems in humans. - Mod.TG]

[ProMED-mail would like to thank Dr. Angela Huang
for submitting a similar
article translated from Chinese.

In a report on food safety by the Institute for
Agricultural Sciences of Viet Nam, discusses the
use of beta agonists in swine feed. This
document mentions that only a small amount of
clenbuterol is excreted and metabolized, with the
majority of the drug remaining in muscles and
organs (liver and kidney). Humans, when using
food processed from these animals show the same
manifestations as if they had directly inhaled a
treatment dose of clenbuterol with increased
heart rate leading to coronary arteriectasia
(arterial distension) , bronchoectasia
(irreversible local bronchial dilitation), and a
concommitant stimulation of insulin release and
Symptoms compatible with the description provided in the above newswire.

Of note, a similar incident occurred in Hong Kong
in 1998 involving 9 people eating pork lungs that
were found to have concentrations of
clenbuterol ranging between 1 and 24 micrograms
per kilogram. (see Pork, contaminated,
clenbuterol - China (Hong Kong) 19980505.0876).

For a map of China, see

For the interactive HealthMap/ProMED map of China
with links to other recent ProMED postings on
events in China and neighboring countries, see

selected references:
1 Martinez-Navarro JF, Food poisoning related to
consumption of illicit beta-agonist in liver, Lancet 336 (1990), p. 1311.

2. Brambilla G, Loizzo A, Fontana L et al., Food
poisoning following consumption of
clenbuterol-treated veal in Italy, J Am Med Assoc 278 (1997), p. 635.

3 Brambilla G, Cenci T, Franconi F., Clinical
and pharmacological profile in a clembuterol
epidemic poisoning of contaminated beef meat in
Italy, Toxicol Lett 114 (2000), pp. 47–53.

4. Ramos F, silveira I, Silva JM, Barbosa J, Cruz
C, Martins J, Neves C, Alves C.Proposed
guidelines for clenbuterol food poisoning. Am J
Med. 1 September 2004. 117(5): 362-362

- Mod.MPP]

[see also:
Pork, contaminated, clenbuterol - China (Hong Kong) 19980505.0876]

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Sheepherding 101

In the two pictures below, you will see my Lucy wearing sheep. Wearing sheep, simply put, means to wear, or push the sheep to you. Your dog rates, when he/she learns to adjust his/her pace appropriately, without pushing the sheep too hard. Sometimes, you wear sheep away, say, you want to separate one sheep from the group. You would have your dog single that sheep, and then wear it away from the flock.

So, that said, Lucy says that wearing is for newbies, and although she will do this, she really would prefer to drive the sheep where they need to go. Like this:

Finally, some pics!

So, the other day a co-worker told me about a Hawk he found on his car at work. Apparently, this female Hawk likes this brand of car- or, at least, the roof rack of this car. She had just finished devouring a Squirrel (as evidenced by the entrails sitting on the roof of the car). She was not worried at all about the people shooting pictures of her. Neat eh?

Monday, November 17, 2008

All hail the domestic goddess

Yeah, well, it's true!!!!! Sunday was markedly colder than Sat. I was tentatively going to work Lucy, but then house hold work got in the way...

I got up, made myself come great coffee and pancakes (they work well as leftovers too you know!). After that, I decided to move some furniture around. I have been meaning to do it for a loooong time. So, I unloaded the hutch, moved it back the living room, cleaned the heck out of it, and replaced all the collectibles. So, that being done, I could now move the dresser and Parakeets back in their original place. Of course, that included cleaning everything as well. Then, the dog crates got re-arranged. I still have more to do on that front- as in processing/storing/throwing out ancillary items, but it looks much better now.

Then, I headed out to the market, and and some food for dinner. When I arrived home, I got up on the roof, and cleaned out the gutters. It's a yearly job, and necessary to avoid ice dams. So, all done with that, I then put away/replaced screens and picked up the yard.

After that, I cooked an AMAZING steak, baked potato, and peas. The steak turned out just perfectly. I even had a little left over for the dogs.

After THAT, I made chocolate chip cookies. MMMM MMMM MMMM. They were great- not too thick, a little crispy, and best served with a glass of cold milk.

After that, I decided to chill (it was now about 6:00) and I watched some "Little People, Big World" re-runs.

Also, Lucy appears to have finally gotten rid of her UTI- praise Jesus!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

My Kit-TEN is strange..

This is my kitten pawing/scratching at his reflection in a mirror. He will do this until his poor little legs are tired.

hey, wait, could it be???

No leaking by Lucy either yesterday, or, so far today!!!! WAHOO!!!!!!!
Oh, and one funny thing- at the trial yesterday, when we came out, a little boy came up and asked me what kind of dog Lucy was- I told him. He said "I like her, she looks like a Coyote" Hmmmm, so, I bet, did the sheep.

Has anyone seen my Zen?

Remember that recent post where I wrote about feeling just so relaxed, and in control when working Lucy, rather Zen-like? Well, I think I lost it ;) Yesterday we ran in a small arena trial. I ran Lucy in it last year, and even though we did better this year, I felt worse about how we did. Interestingly enough, we took 2nd place last year, and this year, no placements. Guess that illustrates how the scoring doesn't matter eh?!

We had to take the sheep out of the pen to start. When I opened that gate the sheep looked absolutely terrified- if sheep can look that way! Lucy tried to get them off the back fence, but they were having none of it. Lucy grabbed one who came at her, and we eventually got them out of the pen. This tensed her up immediately, and she completely forgot her downs (if you have seen her work lately, you will know that she has been doing stupendously with downs/flanks, and just calm work). Her little pupils were dilated. That's a bad thing, in case you didn't know... So, we got through the small course fine- all points for everything, but we timed out at the pen (even though we got them all in just fine). But, honestly, I don't care about our score, I care that my dog and I just lost it in there.

If people knew how well things were going with us, until that trial, both at clinics, and lessons, they would see that I was rather shocked. Shocked that my dog was behaving this way. I think that's why my voice raised so much- how the HECK is she not taking a down?

Lucy feels the pressure, and she takes cues from me. I have seen her work so well, it just doesn't compute. Of course, then the folks who watch her at a trial like this, and see just the stress/tension stuff, conclude that my dog needs basic training... Lucy doesn't need basic training, Lucy needs one thing- that is, to know that no matter how tense I, or she gets, the rules still apply. You can't "train" that like you would a flank, or even a down, you have to change the way you (read - I), behave when things go kerfluey.

In speaking to some of my mentors last night, they told me that it's just something we go through, and that I have to change me, more than anything.

I know this- I won't be entering any more arena style courses anymore. We just aren't mentally set up for it, and we will stick with our usual field trials.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Wet, cold, boring

Well, this week has been all of the above. November is okay when you have a football game to go to, and maybe some tailgating :) Or, perhaps a sheepdog trial... Best part of November, by far, for me is Thanksgiving. I have always loved this Holiday. Far and away better (for me) than Christmas. We have it pretty well down to a science- the prep work. My nephews have taken over some of our duties, so that's nice. My mother is quite a wonderful cook/baker, you name it. Her signature dishes are roasts. For Thanksgiving we have: Turkey, mashed potatoes, candied sweet potatoes, mixed veggies, stuffing (this is my FAV!!!), cranberry sauce (ick), fresh rolls, olives- I think that's it.. Then we have apple or pumpkin pie for desert. Of course the pie crust is all home made too. It is a lot of work for my mother, but clearly, she is the best cook in the family, so all the girls help out, but it stays at my parent's place. Plus, they have the biggest house :) I can't imagine having Thanksgiving at my place, not for the whole family...

So, that's my feeling on November. It isn't a particularly fun month, but there are a couple of fun things that do occur :)

Lucy's still got this urine leaking thing going on. The culture that the vet plated did not grow a thing- but then again she is on Clavamox. So, vet suggested I put her on PPA for now to see if things tighten up. This morning only a few wet spots in the bathroom- no ponds or lakes. She also got into the shower with me. Too funny! I think she was not liking the driplets of urine, and of course the shower is clean :)
She feels/acts fine, so let's hope this UTI was just a real doozy, and it just took longer to clear up.

Tomorrow we may be going to a sheepdog trial in Ct. Not sure, because I only sent my entry in Weds, so I shall have to verify that I can go today! Lucy will love to work sheep again (we have been off since last weekend). I expect her to behave like an adult, and workwoman-like. The minute I see less, we walk off.

There is one more trial this year, that we may go to, but we will see. Then, it's nothing but training. That's not a bad thing!!!!

I think the next post or two I shall have to get some photos up, this blog is looking mighty un-interesting!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

A bit about me...

You know, I think when it comes right down to it, we are a product of our growing up years. So, now that I am working hard to get a small piece of property to work the sheep on, or even buy a new place with a little bit of land- all by my self, I see why.

I spent all my childhood on my grandparent's farm during school holidays, and summers. My parents shipped us off to, what I thought was another world. It was a real farm, complete with all the lack of amenities. I couldn't have been happier.
Let's see, we had one channel on the TV (with rabbit ears). I think it was channel 12. We didn't get to watch TV, we had work to do, so that one channel wasn't too bad of a hardship.

A typical day consisted of my grandfather getting up before sun up, and heading out to milk the goats. We had French Alpine goats that he hand milked. I would head down to the barn with him and help feed, or open/close gates. Each goat knew when it was their time to be milked, and it was very orderly. "Pride" was the head Doe in the group and kept everyone in line. There was also a Billy goat, but he was in his own pen- and you didn't want to go in there- my brother got squished once too many times... Anyway, as my grandfather was getting finished, I would run back to the house and help get breakfast ready for him, and feed the dogs. They had Bouviers, and later, Australian Shepherds. So, my grandmother would fry SIX eggs for my grandfather, toast some bread, and of course he had to have his Corn Flakes. He ate them every single day of his life. Oh, and if you're wondering, my grandfather was skinny, and had very low cholesterol.

I remember feeding the Purina Dog Chow to the dogs, and when there were puppies, helping to feed them. After breakfast was cleaned up (and I had my cereal with goat milk- from the goat to the fridge to us- no pasteurization.), we then went outside to either collect chicken eggs (a task I hated because those nasty Rhode Island Red hens would always peck us), or we would help my grandfather with whatever was on the agenda. On a farm there is ALWAYS an agenda...

Sometimes we had to remove the waddles from the kids. Sometimes we had to clean out the barns. The biggest job however was the haying. We had LOTS to bring in- and there was lots to do. The girls ran ahead of the wagon to roll the bales closer to it, for easier pick up. Then when the wagon was full, we had to run down to the house and get Kool Aid for everyone to drink (because as a farmer will tell you, only the HOTTEST days are reserved for haying). Then we would meet them back at the elevator and when they took a break storing it in the loft, we would all drink our Kool Aid, and rest a bit. This went on for days. It was hard work, but talk about team work! That's why farmers traditionally have large families, you know- so you can have free help..

Every Sunday we went to Church with my grandmother. Sometimes after Church we would go visiting their friends. Sometimes my parents came for a visit, and we all got to have frozen Pizza (this was a big treat), and we would miss them when they left.

We spent hours in the quarry, swimming in the water hole, and running from water snakes. We would also go and hang out with the goats; I remember they had these HUGE rocks to run and jump on- my grandparents put them there for them, and MAN did those goats love them!

My grandparents had Goats, Sheep, Angus cattle, Peacocks, Ponies, Geese, Chickens, Dogs, one cat named Kim Jim, a Parrot, and well, I am sure I am forgetting something...

My father spent most of his childhood there and recalled using horses instead of a tractor when working the fields, or taking wood in (oh, by the way, there was no heat, just a wood stove). There was also water from a stream and not a ton of it, so baths were not that often and only with 1" of water...

For some reason, in the summer it wasn't obliteratingly hot in the house- thank goodness for that.

When I was finally "of age" and looking for a first job, I found it creosoting fences on a big sheep farm. $1.00 a board I got. Soon after, I landed a job with a horse vet. I basically took care of the horses by myself, and the place was kept beautifully clean. I helped with medical treatments, foaling, you name it. I remember distinctly, unloading a tractor trailer of shavings by myself one day.

I later had other farm jobs- all with horses. The fun stuff like breaking ice out of frozen buckets, slipping and falling on frozen ground. Cleaning sheaths, treating thrush, putting horses down, whatever needed to be done. It wasn't glamorous, but it was what I did.

I don't work on farms anymore, but I help others out whenever I can. I am good at it, and I guess it is rather my calling, but you know? Maybe I am meant to be more of a hobbyist. See, farmers don't have retirement plans, most don't have health insurance, and they are always on the edge of just making it. Most would not trade the life they have, and I think if I were a farmer, I would do whatever it would take to maintain that lifestyle, but I am not, so I have to be realistic.

So, that's a bit about me. I have DONE what others are doing now. There is one person I read about who extols the virtues of having a working farm. Big deal. Been there, and done that. The real farmers; the ones who walk the walk, and don't talk the talk, don't feel the need to brag. There is nothing to brag about- it's hard work, and a good feeling of accomplishment- that's it. My grandparents never bragged about their farm, neither did my father. None of the people I worked for ever bragged about their "working farm"- they simply did not have the time, nor the inclination.

I have been there and done that, I know the work it takes to run a farm, and I certainly know it isn't romantic, and some how illustrious, it's simply a way of life. Bragging about it is rather like bragging that you work 9-5, and eat dinner at 6.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Life goes on, yep, it sure does

So, now we are almost in the middle of November. It's getting very chilly out there, and the darn furnace is kicking on (darn it!). But, all's comfy in the house.

I am planning on running Lucy in a couple of trials coming up (non-usbcha) so we shall see if our maturity is there. I know this- the minute that tail twists, or the minute she slices, we are done. I have seen the competency of this dog, and I will not take less than 100% correct work from her. I hope we do well, and re-gather some of our pride.

Things on the sheep property front are moving along. Spoke with the owner last night, and it looks like now it's just the fencing I need to concern myself with. Got to get estimates, and then we talk again. I would like ultimately to get the perimeter fence up, and then use e-net to break up where they are. That DREADED e-net. OH HOW I HATE IT. Well, I don't hate the fence, I hate having to move it. I am lacking a specific gene that allows one to roll it up, and move it without it becoming one tangled mess.

Lucy still has this weird urine leaking problem. She did have a uti, but the last urinalysis came back clear. Now, who knows what. If it doesn't clear up by Friday (when we get the results of the culture and sensitivity), it's on to an ultra-sound. Vet is concerned maybe it's either a false pregnancy, or God forbid, a Pyometra. I wanted to breed her this fall, but that never happened. Know of any top Kelpies on the east coast of the USA? I know that having announced this now, that the snipers will all get all prickly in their joy for having something nasty to say, but so be it. I don't think I could get a better working Kelpie in the north east USA at this point... But, if I have to spay her, that would extremely, unconscionably stink. If that happens, I will be getting another Kelpie from Erin toute suite. This country could do well with more of her dogs.

Monday, November 10, 2008

We're taught, but do we learn?

I thought I had learned a lot in the past couple of years. Well, in a way, that's true. I learned the steps, but not the dance. Of course I am talking about sheepdog training.

I have spent countless hours working my lass on sheep. Making sure her flanks are square, making sure her fetch is not too pushy. Making sure her outruns are correct, her lifts right, and basically teaching her the steps. To be sure we have come a long way, and I am right proud of her. Until now though, I never felt that it had come together. Always seeing that one mis-step- crud, now I have to fix THAT. I would also see some wonderful things in what she did, and I would be elated, only to then later see something else go wrong. Always the little details, always the "issues". But, we plodded along. I guess that's how all newbies are. Sort of like learning the alphabet and sentence structure along with grammar, before we can write prose. Boring to be sure, but very important. By the way, grammar and sentence structure were never my strong points... Hmmm- food for thought ;)

Anyway, so I went to this clinic given by Derek Scrimgeour recently. Derek pretty much echoed everything my extremely superb friend/trainer had said, which just drove home how important that grammar/sentence structure is... But, what I got from that clinic that really changed me, was so profound in it's simplicity, that I feel a blanket has been removed from my eyes, that I can now truly see the dance for the steps.

Derek made clear that the only things you care about are geometry and sheep's stomachs. Not flanks, not pushiness, not problems with taking downs, nothing but the aforementioned. It simply ISN'T about the dog being wrong, or right, it's about the job being wrong or right. See, dogs are born with all they need- at least they should be. We simply need to teach them what the rules are- not that they are breaking them. We should start out right from the start, and then it's smooth sailing. Basically like teaching the steps of a dance to a 6 year old, and then, once they have the steps down, but the time they hit 7, since they know the important parts, they are able to do the dance with more than aplomb.

I came away with this feeling of calmness, of Zen if you will. I don't worry about what my dog does right, or wrong, I concentrate on training the right. Not hoping the right will occur, but insisting. And, I don't get upset, or in a tizzy, because from the start, I expect the right things to occur; it's downright odd.

I walk out there on the field with my lass. I see the sheep far in the distance. I send her, and as she comes around, I sometimes whistle for a stop, sometimes not, but whatever I ask, she gives- and I expect it. That's probably the most profound difference in my attitude- I expect her to be right, and she is, not the other way around. If I need to remind her that she took steps on her down, I don't get upset, I simply remind her, calmly what is expected.

When we are out there working it is all very calm. No more do I scream, or rush at her. If she is honestly ignoring me, I calmly walk up and hold her collar and remind her to listen- CALMLY. I don't yell. Sometimes dogs can have their own agendas, and it is true you need to remind them that their agenda is YOUR agenda. But, don't be punitive, just be clear.

I also don't work her as long as I used to. I simply work on what we need to improve, and then, leave it at that. This results in a super keen dog, who is not bored with repetition, and who is only improving on the weak areas. All dogs have those weak areas. Why practice what you do well, when what you REALLY need practice on is the difficult stuff.

When we are finished working, I don't feel elated, or upset, or anything. I feel like we achieved what we set out to, and on the whole we are better than we were the day before- EVEN IF she makes a mistake or two. It's the whole dance, and not the steps.
It feels like a rite of passage, a milestone, what ever you call it, we are different, and I feel so much more mature in this game of sheep herding, it's truly astonishing.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Working on stuff we should

I worked Lucy today. I maintained my new calm methods that I achieved after working with Derek. Lucy was a bit heavy on the bit today, but we kept it together. I worked a group of Cotswolds, and then we broke and sat. She was doing some very nice driving. Anyway, then we watched another dog work- I have to say "we", because I am in the field watching, and Lucy is standing on the picnic table watching ;) She needs to be able to see the action, and then she's happy.

After a bit I took the rest of the sheep out of the pen, put the first group of Cotswolds/one Katadin in an adjoining paddock, and left three in the shed/pen. That left me with a small group to work, and also some nice heavy draws, to help us work on pulling out of corners.

So, we started out just doing basic work, and then I let the ladies run up to the far left corner. I sent her in to get them, and she did a beautiful job. No problems. Of course I made her stay in that corner and watch the sheep leave (another Derek piece of advice) and then, they headed to the small shed/pen friends. Again, we pulled them off there. Again I stopped her at the stop that she pulled them away from. Okay, enough of that- let's go get those heavy Cotswolds.

So, we go in the paddock, and they are at this small chute area to a small round pen. So, they run in there, and I have Lucy fetch them out- no problemo- they don't want to be in there anyway :) So, then they run to the corner, opposite their friends in the big field. I sent Lucy away to get them, and what a difference!!!!!
Lucy took her away, stayed tight to the fence, walked up calmly, and they all moved out so nice- that was even with them all staring at her, and really putting the pressure on. That's very good. So, I downed her after they were out. Then I had her walk up to them as they still wanted back to their friends. So, I pushed Lucy too hard- rushed her, and she rushed at them- BAD Julie. It is effective for like, a millisecond, but then it just irritates the sheep (and me). So, we re-set it up and I have Lucy walk up to them, and lay her down when she hits their "bubble", and then they just calmly turn and walk away. This is what we have been working on- teaching her that they WILL turn if she gives them time. I don't blame her for this at ALL, because I never really knew how important it was, and always made her push push push. Now she is really starting to settle in, and be comfortable for those seconds when the pressure is really on.

I think she is about 80% fixed on this issue, and we have her downs sussed, so we are moving along nicely. We are working only on things we need to, and not just working to work sheep. It has changed so much. I have a plan out there, and there just is no free-lancing allowed.

Let this post be a lesson to everyone. Don't just go out and work dogs, train dogs. Big difference.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Pain pain pain

Hmmm. Pretty negative title eh? Well, that sums me up today. No silly, I am not the pain, I am IN pain! My lower back woke me up this morning at about 2:30, it was hurting enough that it woke me up. My neck is completely tweaked- tight, and miserable. Basically my axial skeleton is just a train wreck. Took some Aleve- even though I shouldn't as I am on a Rx pain reliever, but if I want to get anything done today, I need it!

My Boxer boy Tucker's neck is swollen. He has an enlarged lymph node that upon aspiration came back equivocal for lymphoma. He has no other swollen glands, but this one has gotten a fair bit larger. He looks like he is wearing a shroud around the base of his neck, so I believe it may be lymph edema... This will mean we have to do general surgery and remove it. I HATE that given that he is 12. I called the vet, and will wait to hear back. I would prefer them take him in, and do the surgery then, rather than two appointments. But, I will do what they ask.

Lucy is finally putting the weight back, and appears just about her normal weight. I had to double what I was feeding her to get it back on. I WISH Canidae hadn't messed with their formulation.

I have to try and work on the fence today, but if I am still hurting, I may just only move the wood, and do the fence tomorrow. I should leave it, but it looks like such a mess, I won't. And, now that I have a camera set up to catch you know who vandalizing it, I am prepared for what he does.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Please think good thoughts...

My neighbor vandalized my property yesterday. I watched him do it. He did it with such rage, and appeared inebriated. For the first time in my life, I am scared. I don't really know what to do. I have put so much into my home; financially, and just plain sweat equity. I don't know if I could afford to sell and move. At this point I fear for my safety. Each year he gets worse and worse. I handled it okay yesterday, but am melting down today. So, please, if you are reading this, think calm, happy thoughts for me.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


Thank you Mr. Bush

One of the good things about a blog is the ability to state one's opinion without having to endure vitriolic attacks. I have long felt that Bush was the the country's whipping boy, but I never felt enfranchised to say this, except to my closest confidants. How pitiful is that? This is America right? The home of the free and the brave? Well, no, I think now America has become a nation of egos, popularity contests, and appearances. We worry more about being accepted by our "friends" than we do about our own values and beliefs. I will not apologize for my opinions, and I will not hide them. I don't vote based on what everyone else thinks I should, I vote my heart and my conscience. Bush has been the whipping boy far too long, and by the Americans ridiculing him like they do, they make it very clear that we are not a cohesive nation of Americans, we are a nation that is weak. Too weak to know that divided we fall, united we stand. So now we have voted in a new President, installed with great hopes, and expectations of change (as yet we don't know what that change will be). I certainly hope that when the new President falters, and doesn't live up to promises, or God Forbid has to face attacks on our country, that he doesn't have to live through what Bush did. I for one thank Bush for his hard work through all the years. No matter how cool, or fun it is to bash Bush, it isn't right, and it isn't deserved.

Please read the following article:

The Treatment of Bush Has Been a Disgrace
What must our enemies be thinking?

Earlier this year, 12,000 people in San Francisco signed a petition in support of a proposition on a local ballot to rename an Oceanside sewage plant after George W. Bush. The proposition is only one example of the classless disrespect many Americans have shown the president.
[Commentary] AP

According to recent Gallup polls, the president's average approval rating is below 30% -- down from his 90% approval in the wake of 9/11. Mr. Bush has endured relentless attacks from the left while facing abandonment from the right.

This is the price Mr. Bush is paying for trying to work with both Democrats and Republicans. During his 2004 victory speech, the president reached out to voters who supported his opponent, John Kerry, and said, "Today, I want to speak to every person who voted for my opponent. To make this nation stronger and better, I will need your support, and I will work to earn it. I will do all I can do to deserve your trust."

Those bipartisan efforts have been met with crushing resistance from both political parties.

The president's original Supreme Court choice of Harriet Miers alarmed Republicans, while his final nomination of Samuel Alito angered Democrats. His solutions to reform the immigration system alienated traditional conservatives, while his refusal to retreat in Iraq has enraged liberals who have unrealistic expectations about the challenges we face there.

It seems that no matter what Mr. Bush does, he is blamed for everything. He remains despised by the left while continuously disappointing the right.

Yet it should seem obvious that many of our country's current problems either existed long before Mr. Bush ever came to office, or are beyond his control. Perhaps if Americans stopped being so divisive, and congressional leaders came together to work with the president on some of these problems, he would actually have had a fighting chance of solving them.

Like the president said in his 2004 victory speech, "We have one country, one Constitution and one future that binds us. And when we come together and work together, there is no limit to the greatness of America."
In Opinion Journal Today

To be sure, Mr. Bush is not completely alone. His low approval ratings put him in the good company of former Democratic President Harry S. Truman, whose own approval rating sank to 22% shortly before he left office. Despite Mr. Truman's low numbers, a 2005 Wall Street Journal poll found that he was ranked the seventh most popular president in history.

Just as Americans have gained perspective on how challenging Truman's presidency was in the wake of World War II, our country will recognize the hardship President Bush faced these past eight years -- and how extraordinary it was that he accomplished what he did in the wake of the September 11 attacks.

The treatment President Bush has received from this country is nothing less than a disgrace. The attacks launched against him have been cruel and slanderous, proving to the world what little character and resolve we have. The president is not to blame for all these problems. He never lost faith in America or her people, and has tried his hardest to continue leading our nation during a very difficult time.

Our failure to stand by the one person who continued to stand by us has not gone unnoticed by our enemies. It has shown to the world how disloyal we can be when our president needed loyalty -- a shameful display of arrogance and weakness that will haunt this nation long after Mr. Bush has left the White House.

Mr. Shapiro is an investigative reporter and lawyer who previously interned with John F. Kerry's legal team during the presidential election in 2004.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

For those who believe the election was stolen, this one's for you

We had a wonderful conversation at lunch today- my friend and I. We were chatting about how bad it must be for those who fervently believe the election was stolen, and are darned afraid it will be stolen again. I mean, it must be down right maddening, and, if you truly believed it would happen for a third time, absolutely reviling, and could indeed make you just crazed with anger. That's not a good place to be. I am here to tell you that in this time of stolen elections we have to find our Zen place.

Some how, almost magically, I believe, an old Coca Cola commercial came to mind. I have embedded it for your enjoyment. Please, take heed. And take a breath.

In less than 24 hours, it will all be over

You KNOW what I am talking about. This election. Thank the good Lord. We have been spoken too, urged, argued about and just plain been kicked around figuratively, by the media, and in some cases our countrymen. I am vehement that people need to vote, but, unlike well, pretty much a majority it seems, of my fellow Americans, I don't feel the need to say who I am voting for, and explain why, as a segue into why the listener should vote for (in this case, Obama). Oh GOD, if I wanted your opinion, I would surely have asked for it. All this unsolicited education about why Obama is the person to vote for... You know, I think people should remember when they hop up on their pulpits and espouse change, for change sake, that the change they receive may not be what they were thinking of.

When I think of a President, I think of someone who has the country's future FIRST in mind. Not Political aspirations, founded on a need to prove a point. I was undecided for most of this election. Seriously, I wish we could have had a better choice on both sides, but nevertheless, we have what we have, and we have to vote our conscience. The saying is, the office makes the man, not the man makes the office. When the decision has been made, and the man takes the office, that is when we learn what is what, and what the man is made of. Mr. Obama has lofty goals for our country, and it is very romantic, when you listen to him, how we will have change, how the country's economy will change to help the little guy, and how ANYTHING BUT GEORGE BUSH AND THE REPUBLICANS will be better. Well, perhaps that is true. Perhaps not. I am a pragmatist if nothing else. I will listen carefully, and dissect the history of the candidate, and see if he has indeed faced adversity- and how that adversity was handled.

Here's Mr. McCain's Bio/history:

The following is taken from :

John McCain
aka John Sidney McCain III
Video & Images
Click to watch Video

* Watch John McCain Videos
* » John McCain Photo Gallery

Quick Facts

* Born: August 29, 1936 (Panama Canal Zone)
* Lives in: Phoenix, AZ
* Zodiac Sign: Virgo

* Height: 5’7”(1.7m)
* Family: wife Cindy, 4 sons Douglas, Andrew, John IV, and James and 3 daughters Sidney, Meghan, and Bridget
* Parents: Admiral John Sydney McCain, Jr. (from Indiana) and Roberta (Wright) McCain (from Oklahoma)
* Religion: Episcopalian
* Education:
– Graduated: United States Naval Academy (1958)
– National War College (1974)
* Career: –U.S. Representative from 1983 to 1987
–U.S. Senator from 1987-present
* Government Committees:
– Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation
– Chair, Committee on Indian Affairs, 1995-1997, 2005-2007

» more
Related Content

* Where McCain Stands on the Issues
* Discuss the Candidates
* Official John McCain Site

Related People

* Cindy McCain
* Barack Obama
* George W. Bush
* Bill Clinton
* Barry Goldwater
* Hillary Clinton

Related Works

* Books
* 1999 Faith of My Fathers
* 2002 Worth Fighting For
* 2005 Character Is Destiny: Inspiring Stories Every Young Person Should Know and Every Adult Should Remember
* 2007 Hard Call: Great Decisions and the Extraordinary People Who Made Them

John McCain

John McCain is the senior U.S. Senator from Arizona and the 2008 Republican presidential nominee.

John Sidney McCain III was born on August 29, 1936, at Coco Solo Naval Air Station in the Panama Canal Zone, the second of three children born to naval officer John S. McCain Jr. and his wife, Roberta. At the time of his birth, the McCain family was stationed in the Panama Canal Zone, under American control.

Both McCain´s father and paternal grandfather, John Sidney McCain, Sr., were four-star admirals and his father rose to command all the U.S. naval forces in the Pacific.

McCain spent his childhood and adolescent years moving between naval bases in America and abroad. He attended Episcopal high School, a private preparatory boarding school in Alexandria, Virginia, graduating in 1954.

Following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather, McCain graduated (fifth from the bottom of his class) from the Naval Academy at Annapolis in 1958. He also graduated from flight school in 1960.

With the outbreak of the Vietnam War, McCain volunteered for combat duty and began flying carrier-based attack planes on low-altitude bombing runs against the North Vietnamese. He escaped serious injury on July 29, 1967, when his A-4 Skyhawk plane was accidentally shot by a missile on board the USS Forestal, causing explosions and fires that killed 134.

On October 26, 1967, during his 23rd air mission, McCain´s plane was shot down during a bombing run over the North Vietnamese capital of Hanoi. He broke both arms and one leg during the ensuing crash. McCain was moved to Hoa Loa prison, nicknamed the “Hanoi Hilton,” on December 9, 1969.

His captors soon learned he was the son of a high-ranking officer in the U.S. Navy and repeatedly offered him early release, but McCain refused, not wanting to violate the military code of conduct and knowing that the North Vietnamese would use his release as a powerful piece of propaganda.

McCain eventually spent five and a half years in various prison camps, three and a half of those in solitary confinement, and was repeatedly beaten and tortured before he was finally released, along with other American POWs, on March 14, 1973, less than two months after the Vietnam cease fire went into effect. McCain earned the Silver Star, Bronze Star, Purple Heart and Distinguished Flying Cross.

Though McCain had lost most of his physical strength and flexibility, he was determined to continue serving as a naval aviator. After a painful nine months of rehabilitation, he returned to flying duty, but it soon became clear that his injuries had permanently impaired his ability to advance in the Navy.

His introduction to politics came in 1976, when he was assigned as the Navy´s liaison to the U.S. Senate. In 1981, after marrying his second wife, Cindy Hensley, McCain retired from the Navy, and moved to Phoenix, Arizona. While working in public relations for his father-in-law´s beer distribution business, he began establishing connections in politics.

McCain was first elected to political office on November 2, 1982, easily winning a seat in the House of Representatives after his well-known war record helped overcome doubts about his “carpetbagger” status. He was re-elected in 1984.

Having adapted well to the largely conservative politics of his home state, McCain was a loyal supporter of the Reagan administration and numbered among a group of young “new Right.”

In 1986, after the retirement of the longtime Arizona senator and prominent Republican Barry Goldwater, McCain won election to the U.S. Senate. Both in the House and the Senate, McCain earned a reputation as a conservative politician who nonetheless was not afraid to question the ruling Republican orthodoxy. In 1983, for example, he called for the withdrawal of U.S. Marines from Lebanon, and he also publicly criticized the administration´s handling of the Iran-Contra affair.

From 1987 to 1989, McCain underwent a federal investigation as a member of the “Keating Five,” a group of senators who were accused of improperly intervening with federal regulators on behalf of Charles H. Keating Jr., a bank chairman whose Lincoln Savings & Loan Association eventually became one of the biggest failures in the savings and loan disasters of the late 1980s. He was eventually cleared of the charges, although investigators declared that he had exercised “poor judgment” by meeting with the regulators.

McCain weathered the scandal and won re-election to the Senate three times, each time with a solid majority. His reputation as a maverick politician with firm beliefs and a quick temper only increased, and many were impressed with his willingness to be extremely open with the public and the press. He has worked diligently in support of increased tobacco legislation and especially the reform of the campaign finance system, professing some more liberal views and generally proving to be more complex than merely a straight-ahead conservative.

In 1999, McCain published Faith of My Fathers, the story of his family´s military history and his own experiences as a POW. He also emerged as a solid challenger to the frontrunner, Governor George W. Bush of Texas, for the Republican presidential nomination in 2000. Many people from both political parties found his straight talk refreshing. In the New Hampshire primary, McCain won by a surprisingly wide margin, largely bolstered by independent voters and cross-over Democrats.

After a roller-coaster ride during the primaries--Bush won South Carolina, while McCain captured Michigan and Arizona--Bush emerged triumphant on “Super Tuesday” in early March 2000, winning New York and California, among a number of others. Though McCain won in most of the New England states, his large electoral deficit forced him to “suspend” his campaign indefinitely. On May 9, after holding out for two months, McCain formally endorsed Bush.

In August 2000, McCain was diagnosed with skin cancer lesions on his face and arm, which doctors determined were unrelated to a similar lesion which he had removed in 1993. He subsequently underwent surgery, during which all the cancerous tissue was successfully removed. McCain also underwent routine prostate surgery for an enlarged prostate in August of 2001.

McCain was back in the headlines in the spring of 2001, when the Senate debated and eventually passed, by a vote of 59-41, a broad overhaul of the campaign finance system. The bill was the fruit of McCain's six-year effort, with Democratic Senator Russell D. Feingold of Wisconsin to reform the system. Central to the McCain-Feingold bill was a controversial ban on the unrestricted contributions to political parties known as “soft money.” The new law was narrowly upheld by the Supreme Court in 2003.

McCain supported the Iraq War, but criticized The Pentagon several times, especially about low troop strength. At one point, McCain declared he had “no confidence” in the leadership of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. McCain supported the 2007 surge of more than 20,000 troops, which supporters say has increased security in Iraq.

McCain also publicly supported President Bush´s bid for re-election, even though he differed with Bush on several issues including torture, pork barrel spending, illegal immigration, a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage and global warming. He also defended the Vietnam War record of Bush´s opponent, Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, which came under attack during the campaign.

With Bush limited to two terms, McCain officially entered the 2008 presidential race on April 25, 2007, during an announcement in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

McCain married Carol Shepp, a model originally from Philadelphia, on July 3, 1965. He adopted her two young children from a previous marriage (Doug and Andy Shepp) and they had a daughter (Sydney, b. 1966). The couple divorced in April 1980.

McCain met Cindy Lou Hensley, a teacher from Phoenix and daughter of a prosperous Arizona beer distributor, while she was on vacation in 1979 with her parents in Hawaii. He was still married at the time, but separated from his first wife. John and Cindy McCain were married May 17, 1980 in Phoenix. They have four children: Meghan (b. 1984), John IV (known as Jack, b. 1986), James (known as Jimmy, b. 1988), and Bridget (b. 1991 in Bangladesh, adopted by the McCains in 1993).

Here's Mr. Obama's Bio/History, taken from:

Barack Obama
aka Barack Hussein Obama, Jr.
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* Test Your Obama Knowledge
* Where Obama Stands on the Issues
* Discuss the Candidates
* Official Barack Obama Site

Quick Facts

* Born: August 4, 1961 (Hawaii)
* Lives in: Chicago, Illinois
* Zodiac Sign: Leo

* Height: 6′ 1″ (1.87m)
* Family: Married wife Michelle in 1992, 2 daughters Malia and Sasha
* Parents: Barack Obama, Sr. (from Kenya) and Ann Dunham (from Kansas)
* Religion: United Church of Christ
* Drives a: Ford Escape hybrid, Chrysler 300C
* Education:
– Graduated: Columbia University (1983) - Major: Political Science
– Law Degree from Harvard (1991) - Major: J.D. - Magna Cum Laude
– Attended: Occidental College
* Career: U.S. Senator from Illinois sworn in January 4, 2005
* Government Committees:
– Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee
– Foreign Relations Committee
– Veterans Affairs Committee
– 2005 and 2006: served on the Environment and Public Works Committee

» more
Related People

* Sarah Palin
* Joe Biden
* Michelle Obama
* Hillary Clinton
* John McCain
* Bill Clinton
* George W. Bush
* Reverend Jeremiah Wright

Related Works

* Books
* 1995 Dreams From My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance
* 2006 The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream
* 2006 It Takes a Nation: How Strangers Became Family in the Wake of Hurricane Katrina

Barack Obama

Barack Obama is the junior U.S. Senator from Illinois and the 2008 Democratic presidential nominee.

Barack Hussein Obama was born Aug. 4, 1961, in Honolulu, Hawaii. His father, Barack Obama, Sr., was born of Luo ethnicity in Nyanza Province, Kenya. He grew up herding goats with his own father, who was a domestic servant to the British. Although reared among Muslims, Obama, Sr., became an atheist at some point.

Obama’s mother, Ann Dunham, grew up in Wichita, Kansas. Her father worked on oil rigs during the Depression. After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, he signed up for service in World War II and marched across Europe in Patton’s army. Dunham’s mother went to work on a bomber assembly line. After the war, they studied on the G. I. Bill, bought a house through the Federal Housing Program, and moved to Hawaii.

Meantime, Barack’s father had won a scholarship that allowed him to leave Kenya pursue his dreams in Hawaii. At the time of his birth, Obama’s parents were students at the East–West Center of the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

Obama’s parents separated when he was two years old and later divorced. Obama’s father went to Harvard to pursue Ph. D. studies and then returned to Kenya.

His mother married Lolo Soetoro, another East–West Center student from Indonesia. In 1967, the family moved to Jakarta, where Obama’s half-sister Maya Soetoro–Ng was born. Obama attended schools in Jakarta, where classes were taught in the Indonesian language.

Four years later when Barack (commonly known throughout his early years as "Barry") was ten, he returned to Hawaii to live with his maternal grandparents, Madelyn and Stanley Dunham, and later his mother (who died of ovarian cancer in 1995).

He was enrolled in the fifth grade at the esteemed Punahou Academy, graduating with honors in 1979. He was only one of three black students at the school. This is where Obama first became conscious of racism and what it meant to be an African–American.

In his memoir, Obama described how he struggled to reconcile social perceptions of his multiracial heritage. He saw his biological father (who died in a 1982 car accident) only once (in 1971) after his parents divorced. And he admitted using alcohol, marijuana and cocaine during his teenage years.

After high school, Obama studied at Occidental College in Los Angeles for two years. He then transferred to Columbia University in New York, graduating in 1983 with a degree in political science.

After working at Business International Corporation (a company that provided international business information to corporate clients) and NYPIRG, Obama moved to Chicago in 1985. There, he worked as a community organizer with low-income residents in Chicago’s Roseland community and the Altgeld Gardens public housing development on the city’s South Side.

It was during this time that Obama, who said he "was not raised in a religious household," joined the Trinity United Church of Christ. He also visited relatives in Kenya, which included an emotional visit to the graves of his father and paternal grandfather.

Obama entered Harvard Law School in 1988. In February 1990, he was elected the first African–American editor of the Harvard Law Review. Obama graduated magna cum laude in 1991.

After law school, Obama returned to Chicago to practice as a civil rights lawyer, joining the firm of Miner, Barnhill & Galland. He also taught at the University of Chicago Law School. And he helped organize voter registration drives during Bill Clinton’s 1992 presidential campaign.

Obama published an autobiography in 1995 Dreams From My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance. And he won a Grammy for the audio version of the book.

Obama’s advocacy work led him to run for the Illinois State Senate as a Democrat. He was elected in 1996 from the south side neighborhood of Hyde Park.

During these years, Obama worked with both Democrats and Republicans in drafting legislation on ethics, expanded health care services and early childhood education programs for the poor. He also created a state earned-income tax credit for the working poor. And after a number of inmates on death row were found innocent, Obama worked with law enforcement officials to require the videotaping of interrogations and confessions in all capital cases.

In 2000, Obama made an unsuccessful Democratic primary run for the U. S. House of Representatives seat held by four-term incumbent candidate Bobby Rush.

Following the 9/11 attacks, Obama was an early opponent of President George W. Bush’s push to war with Iraq. Obama was still a state senator when he spoke against a resolution authorizing the use of force against Iraq during a rally at Chicago’s Federal Plaza in October 2002.

"I am not opposed to all wars. I'm opposed to dumb wars," he said. "What I am opposed to is the cynical attempt by Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz and other arm-chair, weekend warriors in this Administration to shove their own ideological agendas down our throats, irrespective of the costs in lives lost and in hardships borne."

"He's a bad guy," Obama said, referring to Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. "The world, and the Iraqi people, would be better off without him. But I also know that Saddam poses no imminent and direct threat to the United States, or to his neighbors, that the Iraqi economy is in shambles, that the Iraqi military a fraction of its former strength, and that in concert with the international community he can be contained until, in the way of all petty dictators, he falls away into the dustbin of history."

"I know that even a successful war against Iraq will require a U. S. occupation of undetermined length, at undetermined cost, with undetermined consequences," Obama continued. "I know that an invasion of Iraq without a clear rationale and without strong international support will only fan the flames of the Middle East, and encourage the worst, rather than best, impulses of the Arab world, and strengthen the recruitment arm of al-Qaeda."

The war with Iraq began in 2003 and Obama decided to run for the U.S. Senate open seat vacated by Republican Peter Fitzgerald. In the 2004 Democratic primary, he won 52 percent of the vote, defeating multimillionaire businessman Blair Hull and Illinois Comptroller Daniel Hynes.

That summer, he was invited to deliver the keynote speech in support of John Kerry at the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston. Obama emphasized the importance of unity, and made veiled jabs at the Bush administration and the diversionary use of wedge issues.

"We worship an awesome God in the blue states, and we don't like federal agents poking around our libraries in the red states," he said. "We coach Little League in the blue states, and yes, we've got some gay friends in the red states. There are patriots who opposed the war in Iraq, and there are patriots who supported the war in Iraq. We are one people, all of us pledging allegiance to the Stars and Stripes, all of us defending the United States of America."

After the convention, Obama returned to his U.S. Senate bid in Illinois. His opponent in the general election was suppose to be Republican primary winner Jack Ryan, a wealthy former investment banker. However, Ryan withdrew from the race in June 2004, following public disclosure of unsubstantiated sexual allegations by Ryan's ex wife, actress Jeri Ryan.

In August 2004, diplomat and former presidential candidate Alan Keyes, who was also an African American, accepted the Republican nomination to replace Ryan. In three televised debates, Obama and Keyes expressed opposing views on stem cell research, abortion, gun control, school vouchers and tax cuts.

In the November 2004 general election, Obama received 70% of the vote to Keyes's 27%, the largest electoral victory in Illinois history. Obama became only the third African American elected to the U.S. Senate since Reconstruction.

Sworn into office January 4, 2005, Obama partnered with Republican Sen. Richard Lugar of Indiana on a bill that expanded efforts to destroy weapons of mass destruction in Eastern Europe and Russia. Then with Republican Sen. Tom Corburn of Oklahoma, he created a website that tracks all federal spending.

Obama was also the first to raise the threat of avian flu on the Senate floor, spoke out for victims of Hurricane Katrina, pushed for alternative energy development and championed improved veterans´ benefits. He also worked with Democrat Russ Feingold of Wisconsin to eliminate gifts of travel on corporate jets by lobbyists to members of Congress.

His second book, The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream, was published in October 2006.

In February 2007, Obama made headlines when he announced his candidacy for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination. He was locked in a tight battle with former first lady and current U.S. Senator from New York, Hillary Rodham Clinton until he became the presumptive nominee on June 3, 2008.

Obama met his wife, Michelle, in 1988 when he was a summer associate at the Chicago law firm of Sidley & Austin. They were married in October 1992 and live in Kenwood on Chicago's South Side with their daughters, Malia (born 1998) and Sasha (born 2001).

Well, I hope you have read all of the above- if you are reading this, I guess you have! That's it folks, the candidates track records. Vote with your conscience, and above all, do not apologize, or minimize your feelings in this election. People died so that we could chose our leaders, and we owe it to our country to put our own small efforts into ensuring it's bright future.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Here's the property- what do you think?

An efficient day

This morning, let's face it, I just wasn't feeling to energetic. I forgot about the time change, so got up a bit early- thankfully the cable modem re-sets automatically... Anyway, I made a nice breakfast of crepes, and really REALLY good coffee, and just sat around a bit. I ended up calling and chatting with a good friend in Australia. She told me about some recent trials she had attended, and gave me some updates on things going on with her life, and those around her. She's a great lady, and one of the reasons I would love to visit Australia. Doesn't hurt that she bred Lucy's father, and I am wholly indebted to her for what her boy helped produce in Lucy. Anyway, after I got off the phone, I decided I best get moving...

So, I mowed the lawn one last time. Surprisingly enough there wasn't a mouse nest under the engine shroud, so I didn't have to take the darn thing apart before I started it. BUT, there WERE mice in the shed. A whole train of them departed single file along the wall when I started the mower. I think I counted 4? Well, at least I didn't accidentally grind them up in the motor- maybe they are getting smart? Who knows.

So, I mowed the lawn, and then decided to get that fence put in. I grabbed my handy post driver, the posts, and went to work. Got everything done, and it's not bad- well, considering I don't have a fence stretcher, it's good. After that, I raked some leaves, and lots of them. Then, I stopped for lunch/dinner. Phew. Okay, one last thing- make a trip to the possible sheep property. It was just brush hogged, and they wanted me to check it out- and I wanted to pace it out, just so I could see about how much fence I would need. I will put up a separate post with the pics, because for some reason I can't seem to put the photos where I want when there is text in the post... So, anyway, I am done for now- I may clean, but I doubt it. Chillin' out, I think is the way to go.