Monday, August 30, 2010

We got it done!

Well, finally, the demos were here. It has been some slog leading up to these ditties, and I seriously wanted them over.... I tend to worry about the unknown, and there are a lot of unknowns in something you have never done before.

So, Friday morning came around and I met my friends, who were WONDERFULLY going to trailer my sheep to the demo for me. How GREAT is that? Anyway, they back the trailer up, I get some corn in a bucket, and I go and get the sheep with Lucy. The minute they heard my friend call for them, they spooked. They did not know her voice. But, we got them down. The trailer was close, but there were some spaces through which they could escape, but being that they love their corn, and we had someone in the trailer baiting them, I figured they would hop in. No, nada, no freakin' way. Great. They take off past me and up in the fenced cow area, and Lucy got them back. Got them to the trailer, we settled them for a little, tried again, nope, nada, past the trailer and into the yard, Lucy brought them back. Settle again. Then, try again, nope, up along the fence line to the pasture, but not IN pasture. Lucy brought them back. Then, settle, then they go back up the same place. THEN, we FINALLY got them in (I think they were tired of the whole process). I know I was. Thank God for Lucy.

So, then we get to the fair and we let them out in the arena. A bit before we were scheduled to demo, we all worked them. They were a tad bit light, but not bad. We then had our first demo, and we all tried to pen them, but they were having NONE of it. After the demo, I was talking with the crowd, and then I looked, and did no see the sheep. I asked a lady across the arena, where the sheep were? She pointed to the vicinity of the horse show going on adjacent to our arena, and said "over there". That was my first heart attack. They got through a 12" space in the pedestrian gate. I climb the fence and run over. I see one of my friends with one sheep, holding it, and am told that the other three are behind a barn. So, I run back there, and I see that some nice 4-hers are holding the three with lines. They have not been halter trained, so they are balking seriously. Then we start to move toward the arena, and one really starts to fight. That's when Lucy goes in to um, grip. I finally got her to leave it, and held her. Now, she had just finished her demo and was HOT. So, I ended up carrying her on her back, and she looked quite happy to be carried, with her head hanging down...

We get them back in the arena, and I use one of the pen panels to block that. Phew, I thought to myself, we got through that.... Little did I know....

So, onto the next demo, we are almost through, and a sheep takes the initiative to push the cheap plastic fencing up and slip out of the arena. You have GOT to be kidding. She runs right into the horse show, and causes an interruption. My friend uses her dog to get the sheep, but then the sheep would not walk back, so they had to carry her by her legs, upside down, back to us (the same 4-Hers) and push her on her side back in the arena. This happened TWO more times. Finally, on her last retrieval, I made the decision that she was going in the trailer, we were NOT using her. After she was out of the mix, everything went SO much better. She's # 23, and she's on my spit list.

As to the dogs, they all did well. Danny was a star. He had a couple slices at the end of some flanks in the beginning, but then, he just looked so good. I was so proud of him. Lucy did well too, and especially, on the last demo, I had her fetch the sheep at the escape area, while being held by another dog, and they were against the fence, and Lucy just slowed up, and and maneuvered herself so beautifully between them and the fence and allowed them to bust out toward me, it was seriously a thing of beauty.

At the end of the demos, I was seriously just wanting to get those sheep home, un-loaded and call it a day. When I watched them run up the pasture, it was a big sigh from me.

I went home, showered, and then met everyone for the best dinner I have had in recent history- crab cakes, garlic mashed potatoes, and veggie medley. Everything was SO good, that I was almost speechless.

Then, I went home and to bed.

That is done. Will I do it again? Jury is still out. Not with that fencing, and those sheep.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

It's all good

Little bits of time stealed away for just me, and a couple of dogs. It's very rejuvenating. This weekend we do the sheep herding demos at the fair, and I have been up, pretty much every night stressing over it. Not a lot of fun!

But, this week I had scheduled a small two day sheep herding session with a trainer/friend, and it was really great. I see that I am finally able to listen to instruction, and do what the trainer tells me to do, and WHEN they tell me. Sometimes I talk too much, and that can really interrupt the learning process, but thankfully, the folks I work with have had patience, and now I have learned!

I went to work with Danny, although Lucy did get to do a few things, it was really Danny's time. The first thing we did was work on driving, basically teaching inside flanks, and making sure the shape was right. Then, we worked on the box shape of driving around us. Danny seemed to be getting it.

Then we worked on harder fetches, with sheep being held near pressure, so he had to think, and cover. Danny was nice and deep, so I lay him down, and then walk him up, and he did very nicely. At this point he needs to lay down at top, so he slows down his brain a little on contact. On the fetch, he has good pace. Danny needs work on his left outruns- he isn't covering as well as on the right, so I am doing exercises to fix that, and just in two days, he is better.

Danny also got to work on a very large group of sheep, I don't know, 50 or more. It was good, he enjoyed it.

When it was time to go, I really felt like Danny had learned a lot, and now, I can teach him to drive, and that is really great. Danny is also beginning to develop some eye, and that is also great. Danny's most earnest wish is to do what I ask, and boy, is that a nice thing. He gets that from his father, Glen, which is why I wanted a Glen pup in the first place.

So, that was our lesson. Danny, you are a good boy!

Saturday, August 21, 2010


Today I had to work, and then hit the grocery store. Then, up to work the dogs. I have stuff to get ready for the demos (wash of the pen, get combo panels in the same place, and just general house keeping.) I didn't work Lucy and Danny very long, but I changed our approach in the field, and surprise of surprise, Danny actually "eyed up" as I had him walk up. Lucy also did some different stuff, and in her driving didn't bust through. When we were done working, I gave the sheep some corn, and they enjoyed it, but didn't stick around to really clean it up. Hmmm. Maybe they ARE getting good feed in the pasture. They seem fit, and happy. Although I don't like that hollow they have, but who knows why that is.

Then, I went to my parents house and met up with my sister and my nephew, who's birthday was the other day. I gave him his birthday bucks, and then a small 5" devil's food cake. He LOVED it. I had a teeny piece with him, YUM. Best ever.

Then, my sister convinced me, since she had it out, to vacuum my car with the shop vac, and then I washed the interior, and even some seats. GREAT! I really wanted to get that done. It has needed it BADLY! And, I even found my other set of car keys!

Soon, I will make a nice early dinner, and then I am going to chill out. Tomorrow, get lattice for the panels we will set up for the demos, and maybe work the dogs again. I LOVE having the sheep so close. I doubt, unless it's for a two day lesson, I will ever drive long distances again to work sheep. I am just too relaxed and happy not driving so far. It's just awesome.

Well, that's it for now!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

When you think you are busy... wait, there's more coming!

So, Sunday was a wonderful day for me. Why, you ask? Well, I got a NAP. In the middle of the day. When I got home from working the dogs, I settled in to the Hallmark channel and lay down and watched some very good movies, and slept. All the animals cooperated. Danny was outside, as Lucy is in heat, and never barked once. It was heavenly. I haven't rested in the middle of the day like that in months. It was great.

Yesterday was one of those days that make you want to....... I had to get my car looked at, because it was making a noise in the front left, or so I thought. I brought it in to Mavis, and they said they thought it was a bearing (which I thought may be the issue, but did not want to bring it up, lest they went with the more expensive fix, versus a tire issue.) So, they take it apart (and it took hours, because the bearing was seized on there) and replaced the front left, and aligned it, and after spending $367.00, I drove off, only to STILL HEAR THE NOISE!!!!!!!!!!!!

So, back I went. They reminded me that sometimes it can be the one you think it is not.... So, they do the right for $297.00 and no more noise. Great. Well, now they are both done. That's a lot of money.

I get home after a long day of work and car repairs, have my ham sandwich, and get a call from work that the power is out and my co-worker could not get into the building. So, yours truly had to go in. By the time I got home, it was well into the evening and I had chocolate chip cookies for dinner and went to sleep.

Today is a very busy day at work, and if it's cool, afterward, I will go and work the dogs; if not, no way. Next weekend are the demos, and I cannot wait for them to be over.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Why should I?

I just finished watching a great movie on Lifetime called "Live out loud". It's about a chorus teacher who is diagnosed with breast cancer, and who fights it, and in doing so, realizes there are some things that she was too afraid, or didn't have the time to do. So she does them. It also changes her husband. Basically, the movie is an affirmation of what is important in life. Not what you do, but being YOU, doing what you enjoy, and seeing people, the good people as the precious gifts they are; those that care about you and who encourage you.

This morning I got up early and decided to work the dogs before the rain came. It was nice and cool (60s) and I worked Danny first. He can now do the full field outruns, and he did one, but, once the sheep were at my feet, it was HELL to get him to take a away, as I know he just knew they were going to bolt. But, I made him do it.

Then I worked Lucy, and she did well; more driving and no yelling by me. Just pretty easy stuff, but I believe, I have for a very long time, been making things very difficult on me and the dogs, in the name of good training. Everything is about what is wrong with what they are doing. Lord, that is not who I am.

Who I am is someone who wants to enjoy things for what they are, and if there is a weak spot, to figure out what to do to fix it, and then try and get it worked out, and embrace that we just fixed that issue. I never embrace anything, just on to the next problem. What a crabby person that must make me. It's not who I am.

When I trial, people must think I am nuts because even when Lucy would do egregious things, I would still come off the field so proud of her. Maybe that means I don't fit in in the sheepdog trialing world, or maybe I am naive. Whatever it is, I am not changing.

I also look for approval too much. People who I work with, train with, family, you name it. Thing is, approval is a voluntary thing. Sometimes no matter how hard you work, or what you do, approval isn't going to come. It's really hard when you realize that in the persons who you thought had a deep seated interest in seeing you succeed, don't really, or don't have the time to show it, or maybe who don't even really care, well, that's very hard. But, it's inevitable. We do this stuff (hobbies) for our OWN enjoyment. Not for someone to tell us that we are doing well, or how great we are. We do this stuff to grow in ourselves, and see where it takes us.

I have had this epiphany before, and it led to me quitting the hobby. It became too easy, and who was approving? Nobody, so I quit. Sheepdogging could go the same way. I finally have my own field(s) and my own sheep, and I feel like something is missing. Perhaps approval? No, it's more like someone to enjoy it with. That's a good sign. That will happen as things progress and we have more space to work and more sheep. I will invite my friends over to work their dogs, and even invite newbies to give it a try. And I will be the "approver" and I will be the support that I just always feel I lack. It's my personality to want to fix things and help people. When I can't do that, it's upsetting.

I have one more trial I will go to this fall, and that's it for the year, and from here on out, I will be spending more time looking to improve my dogs with my attitude being right, and my mood relaxed. I will work them more often, and with less tension. I will only look for approval from myself. And, perhaps on the trial field. That will be the true test.

I apologize to Lucy for being such a witch, and I am glad that Danny only suffered a little, before I woke up. Herding is not about perfect moves, it's about good work.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

BEAUTIFUL day!!!!!!!

What a beautiful day. Not hot, no humidity. It was perfect dog working weather. The sheep are much happier too. They were sprightly, as usual, and I can tell you, working these sheep is waaaaay more fun for my dogs; especially in my field. There are so many draws, and nooks and crannies, that well the dogs really have to pay attention. Danny is just enjoying this so much, as there is no drilling, just some usual work, with lots of natural cover needed. Lucy is de-stressing too. I am doing NO drilling, so they just get to do what I want, and in between, keep the sheep to me. It's been fun. I can't wait to get a few more sheep and make it even more interesting.

Lucy after a job well done.

Synchronized Sheep.

Lucy scans for sheep.

The Mourning Dove that stayed with us while we worked.

Danny's got them right where he wants them.

Here's Danny waiting to be sent.

Friday, August 13, 2010


I am very glad it is Friday. Seriously. This week just wasn't "fun" for me, and I was beat. But, it's all behind me now!

At the farm yesterday, I went up with Lucy to check the sheep, and had brought a couple flakes of hay and a little corn with me. They really wanted the corn, so I figured once we got them started down the goat trail, they would stop. No, not my sheep. They went down, and took off along the other fence line. Lucy covered, and then I brought her out, and they partook of the corn- and left the hay. There must be enough to eat in there if they ignore the hay... They look better; more filled out to me, so that is good. The weather was a bit cooler, and you can really see that they enjoy life so much more when they are not so hot.

As soon as the fair is over, I will get some help and get the alley way to the barn set up, and get the barn cleaned up (again). That way, we are set for winter. My friend is going to build me a hay manger if I pay for the materials, so I am psyched about that!

I may also have a few more trees taken down, but I am going to wait until winter for that, so there is less damage to the soil. We left some big evergreen trees up, and they are taking too much space. I WILL though, seed with pasture mix later this month. I need to build this area up, as it won't suffice with heavier stocking loads. My mind is also on getting some more land cleared, but that will be done with an excavator. I already know who I will hire for it. That will also be this winter. Lots of things to do, but all toward the goal of finally getting some nice farm land with lots to eat for all the animals.

Some day, my goal would be to move to the farm (shhh). We will see about that...

This weekend I plan to work the dogs a bit, especially Danny on sorting and odd stuff which makes him get in close and personal with sheep. My sheep won't take him on, but they will balk at being penned, which I think is JUST what Danny needs.

Oh, one more thing- since I have had my dogs on Acana Prairie food, the shedding has decreased incredibly. Very little hair around. AWESOME!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Nick 7. .mov

I love watching Len Dalton's videos. He voice overs to give you running commentary. He is a real stock dogger, who wants good work, not slash and dash. This dog gets hurt, but recovers, and it's important to listen to what Len says. Cattle are dangerous to dogs.

Highs, lows

It's been a long week. It's not been that bad, but it's definitely had it's lows. And, one high ;) My brother told me of an ad on craigslist for some pasture gates for sale, so the other night we headed up there, and met the guy. Turns out my brother knows him. He lives only a few miles from the farm. He sold us three 16', a 14', a couple 12's, a 6' and a 4', PLUS a round bale feeder for $425.00. I gave him a deposit and we pick them up next week :)))))) This means I can lock the cows out of the pasture I want to use to work the sheep!!!!!!!! Also, I think this guy took a shine to me, because when I mentioned how nice his grass was, and the one field would be to work sheep, he told me to bring my sheep! He repeated this two or three times :) He has a girlfriend though, so no go on that, but at least I get to work my sheep in those fields!!!!!

I haven't worked my sheep since the weekend; too bloody hot. They hate this heat. Believe it or not, the burn pile is still smoldering, and that is where the sheep are hanging out, I guess to get relief from the giant horse flies that are attacking them.

I worked Danny and Lucy at my friend's place the other day. Lucy was sorting with me, it was very hot. She ended up quitting, as it took forever, and ran down to the gate to get to the pond. She is NOT handling heat well lately. I ended up using Danny to sort, and he was great. He's doing well, and Lucy in the little I worked her did well too. I realized that instead of laying her down, giving her a steady is much better. She likes it. I believe I have been to harsh on her, and I don't want to be that way anymore, even if it means we suck at trialling.

I got blood work done this week, as well as the holter monitor put on. It comes off today.

Last night was a bad one. At 11:30 pm, Ginger peed right in the middle of my bed. That really really stinks.

Well, that's it for now, need more coffee!!!!!!!!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

All this and it isn't even noon!

I woke up this morning feeling like I had been run over by a truck. Whatever I have going on, it results in sheer exhaustion, and my knees are well, becoming unwilling partners in my life. I cannot squat down, which makes me very VERY annoyed. I think I am going to get steroid shots in my knees.

Anyway, I will not let my shoddy body stop me from getting things done! I hit the market today, and then went to the farm to work the dogs. Worked Danny first. We don't do any real drilling (can't in this field); mainly we do walk ups, some driving, and then make sure you are clean on your flanks. Then I worked Lucy. Just basically the same, though now she has this new thing of busting through at the end of a drive. Lord, it's ways something. I believe it's tension. So, we will just do shorter drives, and keep mixing it up. One good thing about the field for both dogs is that they have to be good on their outruns, or they just may lose their sheep, to goodness know where ;)

We got home, and then I vacuumed the house. So, that's done, YEAH! Just a few minutes ago, one of my neighbor's kids/friend of kid came up to my fence, and caused Nikke and Danny to bark. Nikke is territorial, and she was doing her best to tell him to go away, and he shrugged his shoulders and just kept staring at her. I finally got Nikke and Danny in. I don't know, when dogs are barking at me like that, I tend to just leave, or do something else.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

I wonder if I could fit in the trunk?

I uttered those words today, when my parents told me that they were heading out west to see Yellowstone, and Mt Rushmore. My mother had been to the former as a kid, but I don't think my father has. I would *really* love to go, but alas, the fair happens straight in the middle of the trip. But, I think this has lit a spark in me to plan a trip out west. Maybe not even bring a dog, just me and a good friend, sorta like Thelma and Louise, without the drama. I would love a convertible to go out there in!!!! COOOOOOL!!!

I worked Danny at the farm today, and I am getting more and more comfortable doing that with him. He's pretty solid on not slicing and he's listening well. Plus, this pasture is a real mix of hill and dale, so he has to really pay attention to his sheep. This is something he hasn't really had to do much of, so it's great for him. I also worked a bit on walking up and driving, which can be hard (the driving) because there is pressure every where in that field. Danny is fun to work. He listens, and I don't have to yell (did you hear that Lucy). Man has he come far. Just a few weeks from now will be a year since I had him at the demos and wondered if he would ever be able to work sheep ;) This year he will be working at the demos.

The pasture has more growth in it now, and the sheep look good. I think they did lose weight when I fed that protein block. I have been told that if you provide high protein in the summer, they lose weight due to having to metabolise all that fodder. Still, I have hay out for them, and they are not eating it, so I believe I have covered all bases.

I am so glad I started out with just a few sheep. I believe that when you start a new endeavor, you should a) start small, and b) do it the best you possibly can. I call them my "beta" or test sheep ;)

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Ah to be young again

I remember back when I used to work on farms for a living and before that, when I spent my summers at my grand parent's farm. I loved that life living on the farm in the summers. I didn't miss TV, and I loved animals; always have. As I grew a bit, I got jobs working on horse farms. Worked 6-7 days a week in all weather, and worked hard. I was thin, fit and even had energy to burn the candle at both ends, so to speak- you know, go out at night, that sort of thing.

There was a time when all I thought about was getting land, so I could have a farm- then I would be happy, I thought. Then, I thought, if I can't buy land, I will lease it, then, I would be happy, I thought. Then, I went back to searching for more property. Then I had an epiphany. The epiphany was that my inner happiness is not derived from geography, or land ownership, it's obtained in appreciating what I have. Not a constant drive to be something that I am not quite yet, or to get something I don't have yet. I believe it's just a normal part of aging. As you age, you begin to realize that life is what happens when you are making other plans (thanks John Lennon).

There are some who believe that following a plan to either get something, or live a particular life style is all that is important. My friends, I am here to tell you, that if you chose to live your life in that mind set, you will never be happy. You will spend your time lamenting how much there is still to do to obtain your goal, and then apologize for not being appreciative for what you have. You will spend your time selling your life goals to myriad people who long to live just like you. You will spend your time on the illusion you are trying to create, instead of just being you.

I am just a person who has what I need, and is happy with it. Some days I do wish things were a wee bit different, but I am by and large pretty happy with what I've got. No one gave me what I have. I am LIVING MY LIFE. MY life, not some sort of dreamt up schematic of what would make me happy.

I lay my head down at night happy with my life. I believe that if I am meant to have this or that, it will happen. If I get property that would be cool, but if I don't that would be cool too. I will not spend my time selling my dream to others, in an effort to get support- heck, they have their own lives. My blog is just about the day to day effort of someone who is enjoying the life she has.

Please, everyone, enjoy each day. Don't waste it away reaching for some endpoint that will make you what you want to be. The joy in life is the journey, not the getting there.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


On Friday before the clinic, I stopped by the farm to check the sheep, and top up their water. My brother told me that we had an opportunity to get some good hay, cheap, but we had to get it off the field- that day. So, I followed him to the field, and parked my car, left a window open and the a/c on for the dogs (I would have left them home if I knew that we were doing this).

So, we got a bunch loaded and then a dog appears- it was Lucy. Some how she got the passenger side window open and leaped out and ran around looking for me. She was over heated and staggering. I picked her up and ran her to the pond. Scared me. That will never happen again.

We got the 93 bails unloaded and went back for 30 more, and saw a friend of mine in the field getting hay too :)

So, we finally got it all unloaded and I went home!

Today, Weds, I met a vet who came to give my sheep their health certificates and Rabies Vax for the demos at the fair. I tried to use corn to get them to follow me, but they blew me off, so I had to get Lucy- serves me right for trying to be nice!
Vet says they look good. So, that job's done.

On the health front, still have a way too slow heart rate. Doctor asked me if I exercise a lot, and at first I said yes (apparently, I have dementia!) and then I realized 10 mins standing, sometimes walking or running a little in a field, isn't what she meant. She's ordered a holter monitor, and lots of blood work. We have to get a handle on this because I am back to being ready for bed all day, and extremely forgetful. Please think positive thoughts for figuring out what is going on. I need to feel better, and soon.

The plans for the demo are coming along nicely- I have two friends who will be there to help, and with all our dogs, we should be great! I am starting to look forward to it.... Tentatively....

So, that's it for now. I suppose some day, the humidity will break, right?

Monday, August 2, 2010

We're baaaaaack!

Phew. Good weekend. It was a nice group of folks, a small number, and dogs at all different places in their training. I did get some pics and some video, but that will be in another post.

So, we get to the place, and it has already started- I had to work first, so I was late. I walked the dogs, and then watched the dogs being worked.

Our first session with Danny was pretty good, and we decided most important was working on his fetch pace, which I let slide a bit. His outruns were pretty good and his flanking was good. We also worked on pulling off a fence, which Danny can handle pretty well, but not always the best.

We had dinner out that night, and then I hit the hay, and am glad I brought a book because I needed to quiet my mind.

Sunday we worked on gathers from the other end of the field. Danny's outruns were very good, and I got the pace I wanted by grunting at him if he sped up. We did see that Danny lacks walk up confidence, so I worked him in a smaller area on some Scotties, just walking up. He seems to like that. Danny also lacks eye, so that really flummoxes him when he gets up to sheep. So, it's a problem that I have to work on with him.

The last work of the weekend was the best- beautiful outruns, driving well, and just plain good work.

We hit a major traffic slow up on the Thruway on the way home, and got home later than I wished, but it was good to be home.

Danny slept like a rock last night. So did Lucy. Oh, and Lucy came into heat, I see. Each time it's earlier and earlier.

I checked my sheep on the way home- they feel bony to me. I can't tell if it's because they are older sheep, or what. I just don't know. They are eating the protein block, and are very spritely when worked. I will have to ask some experts.

That's it for now, I will get pics up and video later :)