Monday, May 30, 2011

Danny boy and I

Next trial and other things

My fence guy blew me off twice, and for the last time. Nice to 3/4 finish a job and leave someone high and dry. I found a new guy who is coming later today, let's hope. Supposed to be real hot, ick.

Danny has had several engorged ticks, so I have started him on doxy for now, that I had from when Cori was ill just before she died, so the plan is to get him on a new Rx, and get him tested for all the rotten illnesses you can get from ticks in eight weeks, after a full round of abx (this is what a vet told me to do).

This time of year, it's hard to a) have time to write in a blog and b) have the energy.

Danny and I ran at Cummington this weekend. The sheep were their usual idiot selves- looking for the exhaust, pushing hard that way. You could get nice packets that flowed, or you could get just the opposite. Not aggressive, but just looking to escape at all times. Very hard for young dogs. Danny's brother and sister did well though. Meg won Ranch on Sunday, and Ben took a second in Pro Novice yesterday as well.

Danny fared okay, but we were over faced with the drive away. Both sets of our sheep were very heavy to anywhere but the drive line. Danny also has to learn to get up slow and walk slow. Anyway, we got a 5 on Sat and a 7 on Sunday, but only 2 points on our drive yesterday (yuck). I figured that we had them close enough to those panels, and I just did not want to fight them anymore. Danny JUST moved into pro novice and I don't want tension so high, through no fault of his own. His gathers were very good all weekend, although no stop on his fetch, well, he did, but not as fast as usual. I was shocked!

Our next trial has these same sheep. So, I have lots to go over with Aled at our lesson later this week.

I was happy with Danny. We were over faced with those sheep. I was not experienced enough to know how to handle them and Danny did as he was told, but he did not know how to finesse them. We will get there.

This week, fence work, some mowing at the farm and a lesson later in the week. Then, I have to bring my new lambs home. Then, I have to worm all of John's sheep, when we get them sheared. Oh, one little cool thing- I will be working my dogs there and setting up for a trial. Yes. You read me right. It's all a go.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Danny at Finality Farm SDT

I am back....... Thinking I need a top off of B-12, as it should not take me this long to recover from a busy weekend.... Maybe I am just old...

So, let's see, on Friday, I met my friend up at the trial- that was AFTER I went to work, went to grocery store, walked the dogs at the farm, and mowed/string trimmed the lawn. Yeah, I am serious. So, we met at the trial and I watched some runs. These sheep were NOT trial sheep and at times, it took 3 dogs and 3 handlers to exhaust sheep off the field. No kidding. Scary. We went to dinner Friday night, and I just did not sleep that well, for whatever reason.

Saturday we got up early and went to the farm. I really wanted to show B my training field and get some pointers. Her suggestion was to stick more with driving and walk with him, and to lay off on outruns, as he can't see the sheep well when he takes off. It was good to have her see where I work them, and also see my sheep. Then we headed up to the trial and watched all day. We got out of there at a reasonable hour and after stopping at the house to do chores/clean up we went out to dinner at the Coyote Grill. EXCELLENT food, and I had one drink, a Madres, and BOY was that just what the Dr. ordered to relax me to sleep. Got a good night's sleep that night.

Sunday was the novice/ranch classes. It was cold and foggy. Classes were held up for almost two hours, as you could not see the sheep. I shivered all day. Even with a blanket loaned to me by one of my trial buddies.

I got to watch Danny's brother run in pro novice, and I had my trial buddy video tape their nursery runs that happened on Sat night as well. Those dogs, Meg and Ben both did well with those sheep and a big course.

When it was time for Danny and I to run, I went out there and saw where the sheep were being set out and got a bit dizzy. I was a light headed thinking of the magnitude of it all. Second trial and are we ready? Who knows. When it was our turn I went out there and proceeded to just try and compose myself, and with hands on my hips (that
s composed?!) I sent him away to me. He did a nice outrun and lift. I gave a stop at the top and then allowed him to walk in. He did. We got around the course, he was taking my flank whistles. A few times he ate some grass/sheep droppings, as I know he felt tension, but he kept working. We almost got pen at first try, but one popped out and at second try we got her in. At the end of the run, I was so proud of him I bent down and fawned over him- with sheep still in pen (where's the eye rolling icon?!). I finally got the sheep out and got a hold of Danny and we left the field. I was happy with our first time. I learned later that we did well enough to earn first place. Wow. Danny, you are a VERY good boy!

For our second run, after a long day of shivering, I was just beat (again). I see a common thread. I had also watched several runs of rotten big mouthed black faced sheep running around the pen. I was angry at them for that. So, when we walked to the post, I heard in my group, a loud mouthed black faced ewe. So, game on. We did the same side outrun, and walked them through the course. It didn't feel like quite as good a run, but in any case, we got to the pen and this rotten black face started her shenanigans. I worked the pen hard, pretty much panicked and finally when I got her at the mouth and she faced me, I growled hard at her. My trial buddy said I looked/sounded like the Hulk. We ran out pen points; the judge let me know, and then we left. Judge smiled at me. Hmmmmm.

So, it was then time for me to scribe for novice and the trial manager brought out my second place ribbon and prize. Judge told me at that point that the run was good, but he would have liked to see me NOT panic at the pen- that a good run is nice to end with a pen... I internally shook my head- he was right- Danny deserves better.

So, at the end of the day, I headed home, took a hot shower and the rest of the night is a blur.

One of my trial buddies put some pictures up of the score sheets, and someone mentioned that one of the handlers earned a 17 on their lift. Now, 10 is the highest number possible........ The trial managers checked and sure enough, there was an error in scoring and Danny and I won the second trial as well!

It's almost surreal. I have worked very hard, almost given up on him so many times. I think patience is over looked in this sport. I know we have a long way to go, but I think I will savor this for now.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Yesterday was a whirlwind........ I went out shopping and got some stuff I needed, and went home and picked the dogs up to take to the farm. It was not raining so I high tailed it up there to take advantage. I worked Danny before taking them on their hike, and Danny was good. I reminded him about stops, and just did a few things. He was a good boy. Oh, I did use Lucy to get and put the sheep away, and then we took our hike. They were really running. I knew they needed it. I did NOT leave the sheep in the escape field, as I call it, because I have NO interest in searching for lambs on the lam!

So, then home and commence shampooing carpets. Just did living room and bedroom. I had been meaning to get this done for ages, but finally, with most all furniture gone, I had space to move things out. That job took me about 3 hours. I think I have finally mastered carpet shampooing 101... you must go back over the area you wash like four times...and do it like you are mowing- over lap your rows... LR looks good, but bedroom looks better.

Then I cleaned the bathroom and kitchen, and did some laundry. At the end of it all, I was just beat. I just fed the dogs, and got ready for bed, and fell fast asleep, not realizing that the toilet was running...........

Got up this morning and no water. Just great. STUPID me. I always check that it has seated right (the gasket) but last night I forgot, and I had the a/c on to dry out the place, so never heard it.

Thankfully, the water tank did not take long to refill and all's okay with that......

So, today I have to go to the grocery store and get another new shower curtain, because the one I bought was too narrow and too long- I did not know they came in different sizes....... Then, my friend is supposed to meet me at the farm, and then I may go watch the nursery, but maybe not, because if it is raining, NO! They say thunder showers today too. I am going to body score my sheep today and see if they are losing weight, because I have not been able to leave them in the good grass..... I may grain them just because I worry.

So, that's it for now!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

So, yesterday not much to report, except for rain that is. My lawn is seriously in need of mowing, but the lower half has standing water, and more rain last night and today.

All I did yesterday is walk the dogs around the lane once, and then headed home- too wet to do more than that, but today, I need to work Danny a bit- I think the weather will be better as the week progresses; that's what they say anyway........

I have to shop a bit today and also get some groceries for when my house guests arrive, and clean- still more of that. When you have dogs in the house and a couple of cats, cleaning is/should be a daily occurrence.

I have another friend stopping by to work my sheep tomorrow; I hope they aren't as bad as when the last person came over... I may have to hold them like you do range sheep- far away and some grain ;)

Busy weekend. That's cool. 'Tis the time of year for it!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

My song. This is the song, when I go, when I leave the surly bonds of earth, that I want played at my funeral. Heck, I want to hear it every day. It's MY song. It just fits.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Yesterday was a good one. I did get some rest in late in the day, but prior to that got all my errands done. Also, got some house keeping done. Still more to do. Today it is raining, GOOD! We need it. I got all that seeding done, but the ground on the hill is very dry. Like cracked dry. So, this will be very good. It's a rye grass and blue grass lawn mix, but there is such a dearth of good grass up there (remember, we went from woods to field) that any grass will be better than none. I think this will be a matter of a few years before I get that field growing like I like. Sheep seem okay, I will not let them hang out in high tensile field without me watching them like a hawk- as they have proven, the minute I walk away, they leave.

The fence guy is supposed to come tomorrow, let's hope he gets it done. I really want to rotate these sheep around. If I need a stronger charger, I will get one.... They better watch it...

Danny and Lucy each worked a bit yesterday, and I kept the driving, etc., shorter, as I want to keep Danny up and crisp on his work. Need to straighten a few things up before our next trial (next weekend), and then we shall see how the trial Gods treat us.

Today is clean up day here, and then to my parents' for dinner. Lucy and Dan will come with me, so I can check on, perhaps work them later, but if it is pouring, we won't work them.

Well, that's it for now.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Well, allergies are just freakin' great. I hope they calm down soon, or I can be called Rocky the Raccoon with the black circles under my eyes. Or, maybe Sneezy one of the seven dwarfs.

I worked the dogs a bit yesterday, left them in the high tensile field for a few mins when I talked with my brother, came back out and they got out(fence is not charged and loose). Oh great. Went around the barn,saw one lamb; Lucy brought it back and I put it in the field (hard fence) and then spent the next THREE hours driving, but mainly walking around looking for them. Finally, as it began to get dark, I see them on the top of the hill, other side of fence from me- I was at the bottom. I call for them and they keep going the direction I came from- great. So, I turn around, have my brother let Lucy out of the car, and we intercept them at the far end in the brush. I walk them back to field, give them some grain that I had and left. Went home and basically passed out.

This morning I am so beat. I have vacuumed the living room, but am so tired- need to get groceries and pick up a book and, Interceptor for dogs, but then BED.


Thursday, May 12, 2011

Another thing done! I got home yesterday and began working on the back door flooring. I had tiles down there, removed them last week with a hair dryer- worked really well, but there was a lot of glue. Got some butcher paper and laid that down so the glue would not stick to my floating floor, and commenced the job. It was not as easy as the last job. Not at all.... It took 3.5 hours, and was a bit of a puzzle- which if you know plank flooring, it isn't supposed to go like that.... Well, it's done. I need some trim on the edges, and a wider carpet strip on two sides, and that should hide the flaws. Looks great though. Now, I am set to shampoo the carpet and this weekend I buy some new furniture. Finally, will have a living room that I actually want to spend time in.

Yesterday, I didn't have the energy to walk Danny more than one lap and for some reason he was fine with that. Worked he and Lucy on the sheep a bit, and Lucy made me really happy. She took her stops, didn't press on the fetch, and didn't seem unhappy driving. I told her she was a good girl- she's a real gathering dog, so driving is what she does because she must, gathering is what she lives for... I missed working her. I love that dog so.

I had cleaned out the barn last weekend, and need to get some lime. The sheep will be housed in the room I had the hay in last year, which is bigger, so that is yet another job I have to get to.

I also had a guy come out to spec out putting up more high tensile for me in the two other pastures. He should be back on Monday. I really need to rotate these guys, as their pasture soil is not great and the other pastures are much better. I also need more grass for the lambs coming next month. They are getting very big. One is a MONSTER. She is just enormous. I will get a pic of her.

Well, that's it for now.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

I have been very busy this week. This time of year, things are always flat out, but this year, with the sheep, has been a bit more- as I need to put them in the less than great fenced area for grazing as their home pasture is not so great. This means that I spend more time there than I have time for! Been working Danny on different things. Danny's weaknesses are pretty clear, and I have things I have to mention to the clinicians I am going to. It's interesting that he lacks what Lucy excels in and Lucy excels in what Danny lacks...

Lucy is back to normal now. I have been working her a bit and she's happy and not so tense, worried like she was. I think no heats will definitely be a good thing.

I am putting in the new floor at the back door tonight, and then I have a list of other things to do.

My allergies are the same, but maybe not *quite* so bad. I can only hope. I have been sleeping pretty well, but really busy days will do that to a person..

I have a guy coming to put more high tensile up, so the sheep will have three pastures to graze, and this will allow me to rotate them- which will be just what I have wanted to do. Am getting some lambs from John early June- or sooner. My GOD how big some of the ewe lambs have gotten- rather like Texels!

Had a Scottish Highland bull calf born- talk about strong! He's built like Mac truck and runs like a gazelle. Those are nice cattle. They have a WONDERFUL field to live in.

So, that's it for now. Only like a TON of stuff to do this week!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Soon I gotta get moving. For now, I just need coffee and some toast. Today, first hitting the grocery store, and then Home Depot to get more flooring for the back door area, and some goof off for paint faux pas. Then, perhaps Tractor Supply. I did learn that the stuff I used for lice on my sheep, I can use on them for the black flies, so I will rub or spray some on their bellies/nether areas to keep them clear of these things. It's so bad. I feel very bad for them.

I plan to put the sheep in the training pasture to graze for a long while today, I hope they don't try and escape as the wire is not charged. I have to talk to my brother about putting up page wire, or getting electronet. I would prefer the former, and put it every where we have posts. Just makes life better in terms of rotating sheep off of pastures. Have to see. $$ is tight.

Okay, coffee on board.... ahhhh. So, that's my plans for today. Nothing really fun, but get some stuff done. May pull the old tile up later today. Oh, have to mow. BIG TIME. Grass is growing like crazy- should bring my sheep here :)

Friday, May 6, 2011

Good feeling today. I don't quite know how to put it down on "paper", but I am cool... That's the term I use when things are going fine, even good. Not sure why. Maybe it's seeing my sheep in the fields, grazing away, or watching Danny and Lucy run with me during our walks, or maybe it's the good books I have been reading. Either/any way, it's cool.

I really have learned to live in the moment, and enjoy each day for what it brings me. I think aging does that to a person. Time seems short. Years fly by, and if there is something you want, you are better to have tried and failed then to never have tried at all. Words to live by. Many people, myself included are prone to not try something because they are worried it's a fool's folly. The fool is the person who never tries for fear of failing. Life is not a dress rehearsal. You have to seize each day with a vice like grip and ride it down the path- wherever it leads you.

I forget which day this week it was, but I took a day after work to just chill. Not do anything. Left the sheep alone, didn't even run the dogs. I just needed down time to read my book and relax. Did me a lot of good.

Sheep are still being mauled by the black flies, but they are slowly adjusting and the cool nights we have been having have no doubt helped them relax as there are no flies. Beginning of June I will be bringing home some more Cheviot lambs. Will be good to work Danny on them. He needs a challenge. Will worm them first, and I will set up a feeding area as they may need some hay/grain as they will be babies. We will see.

I worked in the house- finally tackled the front entry way, and put the new flooring in. I LOVE it. Highly recommend it. This is not your momma's vinyl flooring. It's plank flooring (36" long/12" wide) and it's interlocking. I will do the back door area next. Took me some time, as I had to cut around molding, etc., but it was well worth it. It's a floating floor too.

I need to finish the living room so I can pull up the carpet in my bedroom- it's way beyond it's good life now. I have no doubts that that carpeting is helping to make my allergies worse.

Lucy seems better now. She seems to have calmed down a bit, and less shivering. Probably not sore anymore. Worked her a bit on the sheep yesterday, and that made her very happy (me too).

So, this weekend, I may do the back door area flooring, and I need to start looking for furniture. I want either a small sectional couch, or a couch and chair. Not sure what, but money will decide for me. I also need something to put in the area where the tv goes....

I will work the dogs, and I hope my friends at the sheepdog trials do well.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

So, finally, I am getting back to normal routine.... Some how, driving to and from a trial Sat and Sun seems to put me back a bit. I should know by now, that I am not 20 anymore.. :) But, that said, it was not a bad drive at all, and I am glad Danny and I went- even though we met quite different results each day, and I don't blame anyone but me and my handling. Danny maybe a *little* at one point, but honestly, it is up to me to train for all contingencies, so I take the responsibility.

We arrived Saturday morning to a place I have never been. I met up with some other handlers who's first time at a sheepdog trial was NOW and they were a little worried. I know all about that. This is a good first trial, as there are not a lot of people in attendance, and it's rather low key, in terms of no big hats (mostly) are there to watch us novice folks make egregious errors....

Anyway, I left Lucy home on Sat, because she has been just wonky after her spay. She is sensitive as all get out, and doing things like going under my house, being hyper as all get out in the car, and panting and just basically not normal. So, back to we got there....

At the handlers meeting, we were told the usual reminders - do not let your dog chase the sheep, and help your dog if needed.

After the meeting, I got Dan, and since we were first up, as soon as I saw the sheep coming out of the holding area, we entered the field and settled at the post. I set Dan up to my right, knowing the pressure was on that side. I sent him and he went decently, and came in took a whistle and fetched the sheep nicely, and we turned the post correctly, and then I had him drive the sheep with me walking behind enough so I was not a draw to the sheep. We then got them to and through the chute. Dan remained calm and cool, and so did I. It was a very nice first run.

Sunday, was a different deal all together... We were 14th in the run order, I set Danny up on the right, this time he was wider, and deeper and he did this weird thing, that I have not seen too much- and need to figure out. He was deep enough and did not turn in on his sheep until he was past them and by then were running PELL MELL for the exhaust. I whistled a wimpy come by, and I should have used my voice- he hesitated and then he ran for the sheep. I SHOULD have stopped him when I saw the sheep starting to run and called him in. The judge actually told us this.... When will I learn. This will be an issue I look to tackle with the lessons I am taking soon!

So, anyway, Danny started after his sheep. He did the okay, you are at the exhaust, I am not brave enough to slowly go between you and the fence, so I will bust in, and then, gather you up. Which is exactly what he did. And, he brought them very nicely back to the post. I gave him a steady once, but Dan remained calm and workmanlike.

Sheep got to the post, and I have him flank commands to get the sheep lined up. They went into the open pen (had no gate), and I had to flank Danny to get them out. Which, he took every flank and did not slice any. I then had him drive them out to the panels which was not as smooth as Saturday, but we got through it. Then, I ran to the pen, and guarded the far end and had Danny get them in.

As we walked off the field, the judge reminded me I should have whistled him to stop and called him in. Yes, I am a dolt. I need to pay attention to my sheep!

We left after the novice class on Sunday, as I had a lot to do- check my sheep, mow my lawn, lots of things.

On Sat, our score was a 72 and on Sunday? I don't know, and don't want to know! Saturday was a third place, with a run off between the two who had first place- they each had a 75. So, Danny was very good.

That's how it went. That was our first and last entry to a novice novice course. Pro-novice here we come.