Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Just Because.....

Maybe I'm just having to much fun with my camera lately, but I just loved this pic of Lex so much, I just had to post it.
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Sunday, December 28, 2008

Jack is Back!


My Ram Jack is back home today after being away for a few weeks to visit with some new girlfriends. I honestly cant say that anyone even missed him with the exception of myself. He was gone 2 weeks before Kyle even knew he was missing, and then it was only because I made the statement in front of him that no one appeared to miss his presence but me. To with he says to me: "Is Jack gone?" This coming from a boy who goes out on the pasture every night among the sheep to feed his dog (our guardian livestock dog) and didn't even notice??!!
Its a sad state of affairs to know that if Jack keeled over dead tomorrow, not dog, sheep or human would mourn his passing but me, and some would probably not even notice!
Jack and I have a very special relationship, and I know of not many folks that harbor rams that can (or will) say that. Some folks think me strange when I go on about Jack, he is unique I suppose, only to me, as I know him as no one else will.
From the day he hit the ground, I couldn't keep my hands off of him. He was perfect. Jack was planned for, hoped for and waited for with great expectation. He was cuddled and held, hand fed goodies and just outright spoiled from day one.

You would think that a lamb treated as such would grow to be a disrespectful and untrustworthy ram, and I had been warned of such things when well meaning friends and stock men saw the manner with which I raised him. Some went so far as to say he would turn on me by the age of two, especially if he was used for breeding, and when ewes were cycling. Not Jack. He has been nothing but a gentleman from day one. Mind you, Jack is not a pet. He does not meet me at the pasture gate when I walk outside, he does not run to me when I go out on pasture. He only comes to me when he is invited. He knows what he is and he knows his place. Two qualities that endear him to me even more. Jack is in my eyes a very handsome ram. Size, build, temperament, head, hair...everything about him exudes the type of sheep he is, and a damn fine specimen of a St, Croix ram. Do I sound like a doting mother? Perhaps, just a little....OK. Yes, I do. But in my own defense, Ive had many sheep, and cared for them, fed them and bred them. Lambed them, and bottled fed some. Tended to them when they were ill or hurt, and done the humane thing when all else failed, but none have ever stolen my heart the way Jack has.

From a young lamb, till he was close to a year old, Jack lived with my mare, a kind and nurturing horse. They formed a special relationship/bond that still is strong today. While out living with her, he had one of his testicles stepped on accidentally by the horse. Imagine my horror to find him in such a state one morning. The cut was long and deep, and there is still a formidable and visible scar. He had to endure a many a patch job, as I medicated and cleaned and fussed over my prize rams misfortune for the months it took to heal. He was a model patient. ( note: Jack never won any prizes, he is prized only by me as I have never shown him)
I was devastated, thinking he would be so damaged that he would never be able to produce because of this hideous injury. I guess I could have taken him to a vet and had a sperm count or some thing done, but I opted to just let him cover the ewes and see what happened. He was the only ram I had, so if we got all ewes in lamb, Id be doing the happy dance, as the ewes I had for him to breed, were all first time ewes, and that was his first season breeding. As it turned out, Jack retained a strong libido and sperm count, covered all the ewes and we had a nice crop of healthy, pretty little lambs with some singles,twins, and one set of trips. A daughter of his is a special favorite of mine, as she is her fathers daughter, and so much like Jack in every way, that she too has earned more than a special place in my heart.

When I moved from Utah to NC. I did some thing many folks looked at as silly and maybe even stupid. A frivolous waste of money. Maybe it was, but I can be an impulsive person, as well as rather over protective when it comes to my animals, and a darn sight stubborn too and I wasn't selling or leaving Jack. I wasn't leaving my horse, and I wasn't leaving my Llama (at the time my guardian livestock animal) and decided to put a large amount of money into shipping them, and well, since they were coming, why not just fill the trailer up and bring 19 more of my best sheep too! And so 20 head of sheep, one horse and one Llama made the 2600 mile trip from Utah to NC. As far as I was, and still am concerned, it was a good decision and investment. The right decision for me.
I'm not quite sure to what extent of a relationship a shepherdess should or shouldn't have with her flock, I know Ive had sheep in the past that I cared for, but didn't care about, if that makes sense, and I'm sure what I'm saying may perplex some, but it is what it is. I make no excuses or defenses in my favor. They are sheep, but they are my sheep, and if I want to be head over heels in love with a certain few, well then, I guess I will just grin and bear it.
Id never had a ram before, Jack is my first. I always borrowed a ram for breeding, as I had heard so many horror stories about the difficulties of keeping rams, and how dangerous they can be.
So when Jack came home last night, I wondered how he would behave after his absence. Would we still be friends? Would he be wary of me? Would our relationship still be intact after several weeks of non communication and contact? Did it take continued daily contact for us to retain our bond? Questions that would have to go unanswered until he had a little time to settle back in and regroup with his ewes, but questions that would be answered soon enough. I think I would be slightly devastated if my Jack were to give me the cold shoulder and start to behave like a normal ram. As it is, I am very pleased to say, (admit) that my Jack is as sweet and kind and gentle today as the day he hit the ground and I scooped him up and vigorously wiped him off and looked between his legs to see what he was. Some folks will claim that sheep are stupid. That rams don't form personal bonds with people. I beg to differ. This morning, when I went out to run dogs, and fill waters and check everyone out, there stood Jack in all his magnificence. He stepped out from his ewes, and watched me as I went about my chores. I was very aware of his steady inquisitive gaze, as it is some thing I have grown accustomed to over the last 3 years and I rather enjoy his attentions. He has always quietly watched me. In my mind, Ive always liked to think, waiting for the invitation to come over and get his head scratched and a jaw rubbed. I missed him overseeing my daily rounds while he was gone. I missed his presence, and missed not being able to watch him as he strode proudly among his small flock of ewes. What a sappy girl eh? Oh well, laugh if you will, I feel no shame, only pride in my Jack, and I feel that none will ever match his quiet, gentle strong presence or take his place in my heart.
So this morning, I entered the pasture after getting the chores done, with a pocket full of bread and a handful of grain and here comes Jack as soon as I call him up. Happy for scratches and rubs, he even gave me one back in the form of a head rub on my thigh, which he has never done and the reunion welled me up and gave me pause to think that maybe I was in fact just a wee little bit silly over this guy. But I kinda think he feels the same way about me. Which truly brings home the saying, you have to give, to receive, and the other that reminds us, that we get back in life, as good as we give. I have always treated Jack with kindness and respect, and he has in turn, always given the same back to me. I am glad he is back home. I have no qualms with loaning him out, I am proud and happy to do so, and hope that he will leave a little of himself in his lambs so others can understand better how Jack with his easy layed back ways and kind and trusting temperament can effect a person to the point of silly sheep adoration. Welcome home Jack!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

What better way to spend Christmas Day....Than Working Dogs!

And these guys looked like they could use a little exercise anyway.

So I asked Chris to bring them up for me.

She was really on her game today, and keeping a nice pace and distance.

And was really focused.

I could watch this little dog work all day. She is so stylish and intense.

She was looking pretty satisfied with herself afterwards, I was pretty satisfied with her too.

Next up was Bear. He was quite happy to oblige.

He is starting to do a little driving now, and coming along nicely.

Lex wondered if she could have a go too.

And she got right to work.

The ole' girl was in good form.

Ive got a little ram lamb that likes to test the dogs, but Lex gave him what for and put him back in his place. She is generally kind to her stock, but she doesnt take any guff either, and that lamb was just asking for it. In the end, he learned his lesson and fell back in line and behaved. I dont think she gave him much choice.

I dare you to try that again....

I gave Hank a go today as well. Though it was hard to get many shots while trying to keep some semblance of order on the field with a keen young pup. He still isnt ready for any formal training from what I saw today, still just a big goofy pup. But he is interested and had a fun time. Right now, thats all that matters is that we keep it fun and interesting.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

A Christmas Chris

Tonight on this Holy night, not only do we celebrate the birth of Christ Our Lord, but we also celebrate the birth of Chris.
Born, not unlike the Christ child, Chis was born in a shanty barn surrounded by a motley crew of farm animals,in a feed manger on a bed of straw, and a wise man came.
A special pup was born on this special night, and the magic of the Christmas Star blessed this pup with Peace and Joy.
Happy Birthday my little Chris.

And A Merry Christmas To All
From me, the Birthday girl Chris and the Crew @
That'll Do Border Collie Farm
And A Happy New Year Too!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Do you really think anyone is going to take me seriously looking like this???

What better way to spend a cold day indoors,then allowing all the dogs free roam of my living quarters and hunting them down with my camera? The problem with having them all out at once,is that there is no where left to sit. So I had to send in the enforcer. He put a stop to all the fun. Poor Cain. He has been having some coat and skin issues recently, and my vacuum has been having some issues with his coat. So, I pulled him into the the shop the other day,and gave him a buzz. He was feeling pretty naked, so I gave him a tee shirt. Doesn't he just look thrilled?

Did I just see the bed covers moving??

Can't a guy get some privacy around here?

Whos Chair is it......really?

Oh, did you want to sit here?

Chris needs to know.....

Is this really the proper place for a working dog!?
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Monday, December 15, 2008

Work Day @ Willows Rest

Sunday a bunch of us gals gathered at Julie's farm for a lesson day with Robin. I always look forward to these days, not just for the dog work and learning experience, but for the camaraderie too. There were a couple of new faces and dogs, and I really enjoyed watching their dogs, and meeting them. Nice gals, and nice dogs too! I brought Chris, but after I brought her out, we all agreed, she was still favoring her hind quarters from a hit she took last week from Bear and thought it best to give her a bit more time to convalesce. Poor Chris had to sit in the truck all day and watch everyone else having fun. :(
I took Hank too, just as a back up because I wanted to hear what others thought about working Chris, and if the general consensus was that we not work her yet, I had planned to use her lesson time for Hank. Nope, not ready yet. He was quite afraid of Robin's spaghetti noodle and had no intention of doing anything as long as that lady had that big wonky long thingy in there with him. He wanted to get to the sheep, but not that bad! So I just worked Bear, who is swiftly becoming a major favorite dog of mine. Reminds me I really need to get in touch with Dee and thank her again for giving me such a nice dog and getting her up to snuff on his progress.
First we worked Bear in the round pen, and I fell flat on my fanny. That quick walking backwards thing on the slick mud and sheep doo...well I knew it was gonna happen. Id already felt myself slip a couple of times, so when I started to go down I was sorta prepared and rolled with it. Oh how I wish I was a weeble. Weebles wobble but they don't fall down. Lucky I had my coveralls on and so my clothes didn't get all wet and muddy. What was priceless was the look on Bears face. When Robin helped me up and I looked to see where my dog was he had a look of confusion and concern, like he wanted to come over to me and see if I was alright, but wasn't sure if leaving the sheep and moving off balance was an acceptable thing for him to do. Luckily, I may not be a weeble, but more like a bumble. You know the kind on the Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer classic. Bumbles bounce! And so I was not effected by the fall and surprisingly am not suffering from it today as I had feared either. You know those falls, when you feel OK when it happens, but ya just know your gonna feel it the next day.
Anyway, working with Bear is a lot of fun, He is such a nice dog and really wants to do the right thing. He has a lot of really nice qualities, He is pretty awesome, and I feel so lucky to have him.
It appears to be quickly becoming a ritual when we have lesson day, that we all load up in my truck, which could be a humorous post within itself some days. (if my truck isn't trying to dump some one out, by the door flying open while going down the road, its trying to lock folks in and not let them out! ) and went to lunch at a restaurant that I am at a loss at the moment to remember the name of, but they have some of the best burgers this side of the Mason Dixon line! And the chips! Well....they are most days a reason all by their self to go. Yesterdays chips weren't their best effort, but the burgers well and made up for that. Yum!
Laura's poor Nick had to sit this one out too, as he tweaked himself at a trail last weekend, and so is on light duty too. I got there to late to get to see Linc working, but I hear is is coming on well, and ready to start. Yea Linc! The weather was fair, we got about a spit of sprinkles, and the sun tried to come out once. All in all, it was just a fun day with plenty of dog work and laughs. I'm sure there would have been more laughs if everyone had seen me flat out on the ground, but I wasn't about to do an instant replay for those that missed it. Sorry gals. Maybe next time! LOL

Saturday, December 13, 2008

What are you listening to?

Actually,contrary to my last post,I really do have something to talk about. More over a request. My daughter cant keep a secret to save her life, and has already told me what she is getting her brother Kyle and I for Christmas. That's OK. I'm a bit old for surprises anyway. What she has gotten me is a 30 dollar gift certificate for ITunes music.I rarely listen to music on the radio. Mostly I listen to my ipod and CD's. So I have no idea whats hot and whats not any more in music. I have no real specific tastes in music, I listen to whatever sounds good, be it classical, rock, country, alternative, folk, Celtic and the list goes on. I enjoy most types of music though I'm not overly fond of rap or heavy metal. Most ipod songs are .99 cents a song, and while 30 songs doesn't sound like many, to go looking with no idea what I'm looking for, well, the prospect to me is a bit daunting. So I'm looking for suggestions as to what might be enjoyable to down load to my ipod. Here's just sampling of the artists I already have,just to give you an idea of of where my tastes lie.
Government Mule
John Denver
Little Big Town
Tracy Chapman
Elton John ( Don't laugh! )
Bob Seger
James Taylor
Pink Floyd
Rascal Flats
Kenny Chesney
Christina Aguilera
Sara McLaughlin
Who ever the gal is that put out the album Jagged Pill
And another gal that is a....oh how do I be politically correct in this, a....lesbian? But not the butch one.
Classic Celtic
The Wicked Tinkers
Phil Collins
Well, I wont go on,you get the picture. Suggestions please. What are you all listening to?

Tag, Im it

I was invited by Carolyn Of BCxFour to follow through with a "meme" quest, in where you go to your pictures, pull the 6th picture from the 6th file, and write about the pic. Im game, besides, I didnt have anything else to talk about at the moment.
Of all the pictures of my Border Collies I have, this would have been the last picture Id have thunk could have shown up. Carma I reckon.
Folks, meet "Diablo" While he was here, I called him Masi,(pronounced Mass Eye) but he didn't stay long.
A bunch of years ago, I took a dog in for training, A German Shepherd. He was a beautiful, and brilliant dog, and I enjoyed the year he stayed with me. I was able to get a BA on him and a Sch1. When it came time to give him back to his owner, I tried hard to buy him, but to no avail. The owner knew if I wanted him, he must be a keeper. (as I'm pretty particular about the Shepherds I keep) So I then contacted the dogs breeder and asked if they ever made the same breeding again, if he would put me on the list for a pup. Just two days before I am packing it all in to make the move from Utah to NC I get a phone call from the breeder. Mind you, this is 3 yrs later. He tells me he has 5 pups left, 6 weeks old and was I still interested in one. My head went to spinning. Well, Yes! I wanted one. Was I in a position to get one? I already had 11 dogs I was bringing with me to NC. Well hell, whats one more, lets just make it an even dozen. So I traveled 500 miles round trip the next day to go pick up Cree. A beautiful male pup. I kept and worked with Cree for a yr and a half, and as lovely a dog as he was, he was the biggest chicken dog I think Id ever met. He wasn't like his brother in temperament. As I had purchased him to train for a specific sport, and he was proving daily that he wasn't going to be a dog that could take the training, nor did he have the temperament to do the bite work, but he was a tremendous and loyal companion, and was very stable. He'd make some one a very nice OB dog and family companion. I sold Cree to a family that had long admired him with 4 daughters ranging in age from a pair of twins, ages 8 yrs old, to an 11 and a 13 yr old. Cree was in his element when it came to the little girls, and was a perfect fit for their household. Although I had cautioned them that I didnt ever think he would never make a competition dog, they had decided to try their hand with him anyway. True to my warnings, they found out that I was right, but had gotten a taste of the sport and decided this was the road they wanted to travel, and so decided to drop a good wad of money on a black 2 yr old Chec bitch, and had her Imported. She is a magnificent,tremendous dog. I wish I could have bought her, but alas, Ive not got 1,800 hundred dollars plus shipping to drop on a dog.
Well, I hadn't had Cree neutered, he was a fine specimen of the breed, just lacked the temperament to complete the rigors of training, and at a yr and a half old, I felt he was still developing physically and I wanted to see if he'd fill out as he got older. So he was sold unneutered. Well, Cree and Red ( the chec bitch) decided to get together, I'll never know for sure if it was an accident or not, but that was what I was told. Masi was a product of that breeding. When they came and told me they were expecting pups, I was.....intrigued. But declined a pup. Two of the pups ended up at the store I work in at 5 months old, a trade for a horse for their daughters. It bugged me that they were there, well, OK it pissed me off for many reasons. After watching and interacting with them both for a week, I talked to the owners and asked to take one of them home for a few days to see if this chec bitch had contributed anything to giving the pups a tougher temperament than their sire had. Masi was a fun, smart, good looking pup. Very loyal and willing. A typical 5 month old German Shepherd pup, and into everything. Masi proved to be a carbon copy of his sire, except in that he had taken on the black sable coat color from his dams breeding. This picture doesn't do him justice,but he was a handsome guy. Needless to say, I took him back to the store,and he was eventually sold. I don't know where he is now, or who bought him, but I really hope they are enjoying him. He was a neat pup. Very vocal, but a neat pup.

Oops, I forgot I as suppose to tag 6 people myself now, As small as our little blogger community is, it looks like as Ive been trolling around, most everyone I know already has been tagged. I guess I'll just kick back and see what everyone else comes up with. Thanks Carolyn, it was fun going back to some of my older pics.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The scent, and a Woman

This is to funny not to share. Last week, I made a notation in the Movie Maybe post about my son when he came out of the shower smelling....well, less than pleasant from splashing cheap cologne on himself. Well, this past weekend, I aimed to correct that. I had a hard time sitting next to him through the whole drive to and from the movie, and we don't even want to recall the torture for me of how it was sitting next to him throughout the whole movie. Needless to say, I didn't eat my popcorn, I just kept my face buried in it, happy to and much more preferable, inhaling the smell of buttered popcorn as opposed to that stink he had on him. Drinking my soda was a bit difficult trying to get the straw around the popcorn bag, so I just poked a hole in the bag and pushed the straw through the bag and I managed. (just kidding) But don't think the thought didn't cross my mind!
Anyway, the next day I threw that bottle of Aqua Velva away, far, far away, and then this past weekend I took Kyle to the store to give him a lesson in "What Women Like." We smelled cologne after cologne, to the point where Id thought I was going to have to burn the smells out of my nostrils with a lighted match. What the hell is wrong with just smelling clean? Why all the erotic names with exotic odors? What an assault to the senses!
Kyle likes some of the scents that Axe makes, and has body wash, (what ever happened to just calling soap, soap?)and deodorant made by Axe, so after we ran out of colognes to permanently damage our ole factory senses with, we then found and concentrated our efforts on smelling men's body sprays. I laughed when I saw that men now have "Body spray" like women! How sissy is that!? Perfume for men! I had a good time ribbing him about that! At any rate, we sampled, (yes we are some of those folks that spray scent in the air before we buy it, sorry but I'm not buying "Chaps" cologne before smelling it.) Just the name evokes ideas of dirty smelly leather cowboy chaps after a weekend of roping and branding and the long haul riding the drags behind a hundred plus head of cattle. I'm not paying 18.50 to have my son smelling like that!
Anyway, he was jazzed to find and get to sample the newest "body spray" made by Axe called Dark Temptation. I have seen the TV commercials on this, and if you have too, they are kind of humorous. It is suppose to smell like chocolate. What girl doesn't enjoy the sweet smell of chocolate!?
As it turned out, It has a light chocolaty odor to it, but its light and smells pretty good. He liked it, I could live with it, and it was only 5.00 dollars.
When we got to the register to pay for our purchases, the check out boy, and I do mean boy, he couldn't have been a day over 17 yrs old. Well, he picked up the Axe, and looked at it and said to Kyle and I: "Ive been meaning to check this out, do you like the smell?" I told him I thought it was nice, and then laughed, thinking about the TV commercial, and added: "it smells so yummy, I would be tempted to bite a man on the ass that was wearing the stuff myself!"
(thats one of the things that happens to the chocolate man in the TV commercial)
Well, that must have made some kind of impression on the 17 year old cashier, and his equally young friend the bag boy, as they both gave each other that all knowing smile, like hey! We gotta get us some of that if its gonna make girls want to bite us on the butt!
Well, day before yesterday, I had to stop in that same store for a few things, and guess who got to ring me up? I recognized the scent immediately, as my son has liberally sprayed himself daily since getting his can O girls are gonna bite me on the butt body spray, and low and behold, little check out Chucky and Billy the bag boy are as chocolaty odoriferous as can be! I guess they believed me and decided they wanted to be eaten alive by the girls too! As I walked out of the store, I just couldn't help but giggle.
As a side note, I asked Kyle if he has noticed a difference in the girls approach to him at school since wearing the "body spray"
He told me, and I quote, " One threatened to hit me with her belt and another said she wanted to sit on me and squish me into my seat."
The scent obviously turns young teen aged girls into vicious bullies, and old ladies into dirty old hags that like to say outrageous and totally uncalled for way to explicit things young boys.
I feel so ashamed...

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Best guess anyone?


Check this out.I cropped this pic of Bear so you could see up close what I'm curious about. Below is the original pic. I know dogs can have pretty long tongues, but this is just crazy! Is that Bear's tongue between his ears on top of his head? And if so, how the hell is that possible!?
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Bear didn't have anything in his mouth, and was in fact, heading to try to take the ball from Chris. I just find it very hard to believe that is his tongue up there between his eyes on the top of his head! But, what else could it be?? What do you think?

Friday, December 5, 2008

Hank is a goof ball

Since I'm not contributing to Hanks blog at the moment, I thought I would just post a bit about him here. The title pretty much says it all though. At 7 months, Hank is the happiest goofiest dog Ive ever met. He has ants in his pants and pogo sticks for legs. Is it any wonder I cotton to female dogs more so than males. Is there anything you can do with a 7 month old male Border Collie pup, but stand back, (way back) and just watch, laugh, and shake your head. He is all over the place! Don't blink! Here one minuet, gone the next. Zoom, and back again. I swear, he has super powers! All he needs now is a cape, and I can see him having his own show, er....,well, I think it would be more like a Saturday morning cartoon. I have always said that Andy was my comic relief, and did the silliest things to entertain me, but I'm having some serious second thoughts at the moment, like every time I am around Hank. What a guy, and every dogs friend. Of course, he doesn't do the things he does to entertain me, he is all about himself at the moment, as many a teenager is. He is like an ADHD kid! At the moment, he is having a love affair with the water hose, and while he knows better than to touch it, he refuses to leave its side when its turned on to fill up the stock tank. He guards it like one of the Queens guards, stoic at his post and refuses to leave it even for play with the other dogs as long as it is turned on, and when I turn it off and lay it back on the ground, he has to inspect it, for what I don't know, and then will reluctantly leave it only when it sadly appears to not want to return his attentive affections. Recently, he has started following Lex around and trying to emulate his mother. Everything Lex does, he is right behind her and trying to do the same things. (except when he is busy hanging with the garden hose) She has a routine she has made up that she follows rigidly every day, and he follows and does the same things. I put this to the test several times now, to see if he was actually just following her, or if he has taken Lex's routine on for himself. Instead of letting Lex out of her crate first, and then Hank, I let him out first and go see what he'll do. I find him, just as I do his mom, over on the back side of the field, wandering around, doing his thing and waiting for Lex. As soon as I let her out, she runs down to where she always goes, and there is Hank waiting for her. Once his greetings are over with, he high tails it at top speed back to where me and the other dogs are. He is getting use to his long gangly legs, but the word coordination and Hank just don't quite go together as of yet. His brain is always two steps ahead of his legs, and to watch his legs trying to catch up to his mind, can be scary and hilarious all at once. Will he make that sharp turn at the corner post, or will he face plant it at a high rate of speed and end up with a mouthful of grass and sand. He has no self consciousness at all, and when he does do a face plant, he more than anyone thinks its pretty funny, and gets right up and attempts it all over again with a "What the hey! It was good for a laugh the first time!" attitude. Any training for the moment, has been put on hold, as he has the attention span of a fish. He is so consumed with the world around him, that he doesn't have time to worry about such things. His recall is still relatively intact, it just might take twice to get his attention, but when ya do, guard your shins,cause he is coming in full bore. So happy and proud of himself that he remembered what That'll Do means. All this happy go lucky, is what he is at home. Take him out of his element however, and he is a changed dog. Recently, he has developed a fear of strangers. This is mind boggling to me, as he has been extensively socialized as a pup, and was for all intensive practical purposes, a regular Wal Mart greeter. Now, when he meets some one he is unfamiliar with, he runs and hides behind my legs while bravely barking at them from behind my knees. I am hoping he grows out of this, and its just a phase he is going through. His half brother Roy went through a phase very similar to this and thankfully it only lasted a few months and he was back to normal. So, about once a week, I take him out, and gauge how he is doing. So far he has gone from hiding and barking, to allowing some one to pet him though he is stretched out sniffing them first, once close enough, he then becomes their new best friend, so progress is in the making. I wont push him, I find a willing subject, and let him make up his own mind as to what he thinks is safe for him. He seems to be be applying good judgement as time goes by, the quirky butthead. And I say that in the most affectionate of terms. He is growing by leaps and bounds, (literally!) and is the biggest collie on the place. Once he grows into himself, the way he is built, I think he will be lithe and graceful. But for now, he is just a gangly, goofy, happy go lucky kinda guy in love with a water hose, and life, and all that goes with it.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Clean Room Equals Movie....Maybe

My son Kyle (13 yrs old)is an avid reader, and recently has read 2 of the 4 ( so far) books in the series Twilight, and has become a fan of the story. Well the movie Twilight came out this last week ago or so, and Ive heard nothing all week from him but "When can we go see Twilight!?" Of course, being a mother, my answer upon hearing each imploring request was, "as soon as you clean your room!" I consider that type of retort to be motivation. As the closing date for the movie drew closer and closer, that, more than anything seemed to be the true motivator for him to get cracking on the room rather than my insistence that he get it done. But now, since he had been taking his sweet ass time getting his room done, yesterday, closing day for the movie here at our home town theater, I added another twist to my expectations. He called me at work, frantic, telling me today was the last day to get to see the movie. This, I already knew, as, being the mom I have to try to stay one step ahead of him, I had already called the theater and found this out. I was very nonchalant, answering, "yes, I know, so, have you got that room done yet?" Silence was my answer. So, I told him, "sure, we could go to the movie tonight, provided you get the room finished. Oh, and take out the trash, load the dishwasher, AND! Clean your bathroom." A short gasp, then I could hear his brain ticking along over the phone lines, calculating how long it would take him to carry out the various chores, and still get time to play his beloved games on the computer before I got home from work. To which he guardedly asked as the ticking subsided, "so what time are you getting home?" Because you know I expected the work to be done "before" I got home from work. Just to spur him on and motivate him further, I responded "I don't know what time I'll be getting home. "Could be two o'clock, could be 5 o'clock" This call took place at about noon, so you can imagine that it didn't take him long to end the call. As it was, I ended up getting home from work about 4:30pm. And low and behold! All the work had been done! Well, mostly. I did have to step over a trash bag as I walked onto the front porch into the house that he had forgotten to take all the way out. He was quite proud of himself when I got there, and offered me a tour of his labors. "Lead on!" I replied. Of course, the tour had to wait till he got the trash off the front porch, and fed his dog. By the time he got those two things done, he was exasperated. The clock was ticking to get to the 7:30 showing and we had an hours drive to the theater. Id thought about being a real nit picker when he gave me the grand tour of his handiwork, but I could see that he had actually put some thought into the work, and had rearranged things in the bathroom nicely, and even vacuumed his room too! I thought he'd gone a bit to far fixing his book shelf, and boldly propping up the two Twilight books so that you couldn't help but notice them. But, as I a ran a finger across the shelf I did see that it had also been dusted so I let the fact that this was a bedroom bookshelf and not a book store to have books displayed fall and noted that those two books weren't put away properly, to which they quickly were slide into their proper place without a word. After the tour, I calmly and quietly, slowly nodded non committal, turned and wandered into my own room with Kyle dead on my heels. As I crossed the thresh hold into my room, he skidded to a stop, looking expectantly, questioningly, at me. I turned as if I didn't know he was there, and asked him, "why are you following me?" His response was not as quick, as it was calculated. I could see he was ready to burst, wanting to hear if all his work had passed muster with me and COULD WE PLEASE GO SEE TWILIGHT! Being a mom most days isn't all that easy, but there are days when it has its rewards, and this was one of them. As I stood there watching him, like a cat playing with its prey, he twisted and fumbled and twice started to open his mouth, and quickly decided to change whatever it was he was about to say, or, decided on a different, better way to phrase what he was about to say. It was fun trying to be serious and watch him twitching without laughing. But I held out, stern faced and asked again, "What?" Finally, his body relaxed. He almost looked defeated and he looked at the floor first, and then to me, eyes hopeful, beseeching. "Um, how does it look?" Still feeding off his humbleness, I just said, "well, you cleaned it, do you think it looks good?" "Do you think if "I" had cleaned it that it would look like that?" (emphasis on the word "that", to which I spat out rather than merely said, as I pointed a finger down towards the hall) Hearing those words, his chin dropped to his chest, he felt for sure, that there was no way he was going to get to go to the movie now, as he is well aware that I am a much better, more through cleaner than he. I let him stand there for a minuet more, looking, almost cringing, out from under his too long hair hanging in his face. Finally, I said, "Well, I reckon you didn't do "to" bad a job." I start to see a ray of hope changing to a glint in his eye. The one I can see peering out from under the to long hair. His pout starting to turn into a wry smile. I was temped to not allow him this ray of hope, but I think what I had already put him through was bordering on mental abuse, so tagged a couple of small requests of things I wanted to see done a bit better, like actually sweeping the "entire" bathroom floor, like behind the toilet, What? Ya didn't think Id look there? And emptying the bathroom trash can and then, sure, I guess we could go see the movie. He was all assholes and elbows getting it done, and I was pleased to see that he was learning to just get er done, instead of using his time to argue that he did in fact sweep the floor.
Next thing I know he was rushing to get ready to go to the movie. Had he put as much thought and effort into cleaning as he had into his choice of movie going attire and hair do, he would have earned a gold star for the day. First he had to take a quick shower. When he was done and he opened the bathroom door and stepped out, all I could smell, instead of the sweet smells of a freshly washed boy, was instead the smell of some overpowering cheap cologne that some one had given him last Christmas. Gag me! Then comes the clothes. Of course they have to be dark, black to be precise, to match the mood of the movie. Then the hair. I don't care if it is the style the kids are wearing today, that boy is heading to the barbers tomorrow! He fussed more with his hair than the time he spent washing himself! As I watched him readying himself, I saw as I sat firmly planted on the couch scanning my new Working Border Collie magazine that I had just gotten out of the mailbox this evening, that he kept looking at me every few minuets. Finally wondering what exactly it was he was looking at me like I had a bugger on my face for, I asked him. "Why do you keep looking at me like that!?" Kyle knows the routine around here. There are dogs to run and feed, livestock to take care of, and he knows Ive still got those things to do, and, need I remind you mom that the clock is ticking! What he didn't realize was, that I wasn't done toying with him quite yet. He was already afraid that the movie would be sold out, and feared that we wouldn't get to see it even if we did get there in time. Ah, but he underestimates his mother. When I called the theater that morning, I had reserved two tickets already. But of course, I didn't tell him that little secret. As he worriedly looks at the clock, and then at me, I ever so slowly, stretch, yawn, and lay my mag down and get up to start turning out the dogs. I see him let out a sigh of relief upon my departure from the couch. Within minuets, he is out the door behind me and the dogs, forsaking his hair do to the rain, and following me around like a lost puppy, trying to get under the umbrella with me. "Do you need me to get the sheep's grain for you? Want me to fill the water? What are you giving the horses tonight?" I'll watch Andy for ya and make sure he doesn't run off the Bill's for ya, want me to do that for ya!?" I finally had to laugh, I couldn't hold it in any longer. I'm so mean, I was making my son a basket case, and enjoying it!
So, with the dogs snugly tucked in and fed for the night, and the stock taken care of, we finally get back inside and as far as he is concerned, without a moment to spare. But! Now I have to get ready to go, and as jazzed as he is to get out of the house and into the truck and down the road, he knows it will do no good to try to rush me any more, as I only and obviously, from what he experienced outside, tend to slow down the more he tries to speed me up. Lucky for him, I'm not as finicky about my hair as he is, and am ready to go in a few minuets, much to his relief.
On the drive to and through town, he worried me. The comments he made, make me think he'll probably never get a drivers license. He was a backseat driver, and appeared to have a touch of road rage at the number of people driving badly through town. Poor kid, his nerves were shot. As we finally pulled into the theater parking lot, his attitude dropped yet another notch, it was slam full and we had a hard time finding a place to park my huge truck, which made him even more tense. "We're never going to get a ticket for Twilight" he moaned, "Look at all the cars, their probably all here for the last night of Twilight" I just looked at him with a cheery, we;ll see smile, and he leaped out of the truck and hauled booty across the parking lot to the ticket counter, stopping every few seconds to see if I was coming or not. Shouting as I lost sight of him between the cars, "I'll save us a place in line!"
By the time I got there, he was wringing his hands, and announced to me that the last 8 people in front of him had asked for tickets for Twilight. There were 5 more couples in front of us before it was our turn. While waiting, I tried to convince him that maybe we should see another movie instead, and that Id really like to see that new movie Australia, and wouldn't you to? He was only half hearted listening to me, more intent on seeing/listening to what was happening in the line ahead of him. All the sudden, his expression changed from intense curiosity, to absolute dismay. He turned to me and just stared, mouth agape. "What?" I asked. "That,... that lady at the ticket counter just told those people that all tickets for Twilight were now sold out!" "Oh?" I inquired rather to unabashed. Before he could break into a tirade of how upset he was that he wasn't going to get to see Twilight and how it was all my fault that I didn't get ready fast enough, I reminded him that we could always see it when it came out on video, and told him we were up next and that he'd best hurry and pick out another movie he wanted to see before it was our turn at the ticket counter. He quickly, but unenthusiastically decided on Madagascar 2 and I agreed that was a good choice and then sent him with a handful of bills to the concession stand to get us some popcorn and sodas while I got the tickets. I gave the gal at the ticket counter my name and told her I had reserved tickets for the 7:30 showing of Twilight and received our tickets. I met Kyle in line at the concession stand, tickets saftly hidden in my pocket. All joy had left this boys face, and I was tempted at that point, seeing him so down trodden to just go ahead and tell him what Id done. But, like I said, being mom isn't always easy, and some times we have to create a hero like aura so we don't get lost and left behind to friends and trends and fads that teenagers seem to place higher on their priority list than they do their moms some times. In other words, yea, I was milking it for as long as I could. We got our popcorn and drinks, and headed to the line to turn in our tickets and to be pointed in the direction to which door to go into for our designated movie. Kyle was drowning his sorrows in his popcorn, and getting him through the door was like leading the blind, he didn't even look up when the usher pointed us to the door leading to the movie Twilight. Could it get any better than this??!! He didn't even look up when we passed under the red lighted sign that clearly said Twilight over the door! We still had a few minuets to kill after we sat down before the movie started, and Kyle was not even interested in watching the pre show adverts and commercials. I tried to console him, and with an upbeat attitude, remind him of how much we enjoyed the first Madagascar, and that this should be a pretty fun movie too! To which without even looking out from under his to long hair, he mumbled, "yea, but its not Twilight." It really was all I could do to not spill the beans, but we were so close now, and it had turned out way better than I could have ever hoped for, this turn of events that lead us to where we were at that point. So I kept quiet and just sat back and waited for the show to begin.
I, am, at this very moment, and hopefully for many years to come the biggest hero in my sons eyes, and sportin the biggest bruise. As the movie finally came on and he realised, what he was watching and practically screamed at me "How did you do that!!??" and punched me on the arm in his excitement, I just looked at him and pushed the too long hair out of his eyes, and said, "I'm magic!" Now hush, and watch the movie.
As a side note,Id like to mention, that Twilight was a very enjoyable movie, and I think every girl should have the fierce devotion of a vegetarian vampire mate like Edward has for Bella. What a story! Kyle was right, it definitly was worth seeing on the big screen!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Candied Yams and Sheepdog Training??

For as long as I can remember, every Thanksgiving I have tried to duplicate my mothers recipe for Candied Yams. Without fail, I have miserably failed. Until this year! How do I attribute my successes for this year? Sheepdog training!
Today while everything from the Bird to the taters boiling for smashed potatoes were cooking, I found I had a little time to go outside and enjoy the beautiful warm weather we were having. As much as I enjoy cooking Thanksgiving Dinner, it was getting hot in my little kitchen and the sun shining through the windows was beckoning to me. I looked at the clock and decided I had a half and hour to sneak away from the kitchen. Since it was a Holiday I had decided to treat the dogs, and allowed them all, yes, all six of them to hang with me in the kitchen while I cooked. Well, actually, I just allowed them all free reign of the house, but of course, the kitchen with me is where they all ended up staying. I'm sure it had some thing to do with the fact that they were hoping for handouts and hoovering opportunities just in case I spilled or dropped some thing on the floor. I'll bet there are a couple of them that wish they had docked tails, as I kept stepping on them while trying to move about in my small over crowded kitchen. So I called them all to come outside with me and thought we'd just get a good game of fetch going, but as soon as I got out there, I though how nice it would be just to let the dogs work a bit instead. I had no intended plans, no training to achieve today, just a little simple work to let them blow off some steam, and have some fun. I took Chris first, and everything was quiet and mellow. I was in a zen state. All was right in my world. I was off work, Kyle had been helpful in the kitchen and had made 2 pumpkin pies and a batch of brownies and peeled the taters for me, and we had fun doing that together. DH was sitting some where on the back 40 in a tree stand waiting for a deer to wander in, everything in the kitchen was going well,(meaning I hadn't burned anything yet) and now, here I was outside with the sheep on a beautiful warm November day working my dogs. My approach to the work was not rushed, I had no agenda, and I was calm and quiet with the dogs. It was lovely. Chris was the most relaxed I think Ive ever seen her, and couldn't put a foot wrong, and if she did, it really wasn't that big a deal to get all uppity with her about anyway. We were just out there to have some fun. Next I ran Bear. I did do a little work with him on walking out with me, but as I lay him down on the field for a small outrun, I turned and faced him as I walked backwards away from him, quietly and calmly repeating lie down, liiiieee dooowwwn. It was the first time he didn't try to cheat me and get up and go after the sheep before I sent him. Do I think this was progress? Maybe. But mostly I think it had everything to do with "my" state of mind, and that my happy, calm and unrushed demeanor had translated to the dogs. Bear got a little work in and it was pretty. As I walked off the field and into the yard, I called "That'll do" and was quickly surrounded by happy wagging tails and slobbery smiles and we all went back into the house to make the candied yams. Every year on Thanksgiving, I call my mom and ask her the same question. Tell me how to make the yams, and every year she says she doesn't have a recipe, and follows with, "I just make them." "Use a stick of butter some brown sugar and put it in the pan and cook it." Every year I do that, and every year they turn out like crap. Well, not that bad, but not like moms. This year I didn't call mom, I just went inside still ridding on the calm and unhurried composure I had come off the field with and I finally figured out the secret for the yams. Even though Id always had the right ingredients in the past, I was always missing one thing. Tempered patience. Just like I use to work the dogs, hurried and un even tempered, I cooked the yams the same way. Always in a hurry to see results. In working with Chris, such a high strung girl, Ive had to learn to be calm and patient, tempered. So when I finally did call mom tonight to wish her a Happy Thanksgiving and excitedly tell her Id finally figured out the secret of how to make the yams, well, I could hardly tell her that Id learned the secret to making the perfect candied yams through working dogs. So when she asked me how I did it, I simply said, Patience. I am thankful for many things, not just today on Thanksgiving, but every day. Thankful for friends, my children and grandchildren, family, life, health. But on days like today, I'm reminded of how thankful I am for my dogs. Loving and kind creatures, who always forgive my bumblings, and teach me so much that carries so much further beyond our home field. Who'd have ever thought that a dog could teach me how not to burn the butter!

Dont Make Friends with Yer Food, Or You'll End Up Eating Chicken!


Happy Thanksgiving To All!
From The Cast and Crew Of
That'll Do Border Collies
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Monday, November 24, 2008

Working Bear,or As some would say, "The Other Hank!" LOL

Saturday while at Robin's I worked Bear in the round pen. Granted, we are still learning to trust each other and getting it together as a team, and Ive found Bear to be extremely easy to work with and he has good instincts and reads his sheep well, so I was a bit concerned when the sheep got into a corner and he wouldn't go in and scoop them out.
Yesterday, I put all the sheep in the catch pen, but left out 3 of the (sorta) whether ram lambs. I wasn't out there to work on him getting the sheep out of a corner, but the opportunity did present itself as the lambs had never been worked by themselves until yesterday and there was a strong draw to the catch pen where the other sheep were and so they shot up there and hung in a corner at one point when Id called Bear back down to set up a small outrun. When I saw where the sheep had gone, of course I didn't send him, but instead we walked up to where the lambs were and I encouraged him to get in between the fence and lambs to pull them off the fence. I guess the pressure was to much for him, as he locked up and wouldn't go in. So I took him by the collar and walked in with him to help him out and show him that he could do it. I have been on the rail about a particular lamb for awhile now, and have been trying to figure out if I really want to put him in the freezer, or have a vet come out and finish what I started. Last spring, I purchased a Burdizzo. It is a device that crushes the cord that the testicles are attached to, and within a few weeks,the testicles shrink and disappear and the rams then become whethers instead of rams. My first burdizzo experience was about half successful. In other words, I got about half the ram lambs done correctly, and the other half are well,...still half a ram, meaning they still have one testicle. He is a beautiful lamb, and very much reminds me of his sire Jack, whom I think the world of as rams go. Hindsight makes me wish Id left him (fully) intact. He was one of the lambs I kept out for Bear to work. My thinking was if I could make him a nice schooling lamb, then I would be much more inclined to spend the money for the vet call to remove the other testicle. As I walked in with Bear to help get them out of the corner, that little stinker of a lamb, nailed my dog and ploughed him to the ground. I, and Bear were very unhappy about this turn of events. So I got the lambs out of the corner myself with Bear attempting to help, and we continued on with our original plan of just working on flanks and fetching. At one point, we were walking down the fence line with Bear covering the pressure nicely, but that darned ram lamb kept turning around and challenging Bear. First, stopping and facing Bear, then putting his head down and stomping his foot. The first few times this happened, it looked like it was going to be a stare off between Bear and the lamb, but the lamb decided to re join the group and not start the fight. Further down the fence line, he tried it again, and again, and had started to build enough confidence to start rushing Bear, and I was about tired of his antics threatening my dog and decided to let Bear show this lamb who was boss. To date, Ive never even seen Bear attempt to grip, gripping to me is a double edged sword and so have not yet encouraged it with Bear. If the dog has enough power, he is able to turn a sheep with their eye and body language. Bear is young, and not secure enough yet to understand his capabilities, and I didn't want this lamb to win, I wanted my dog to win. I said Bear's name to get him to listen at me for a second, and then encouraged him to get in there and teach that lamb who owned this field. At first, Bear was hesitant, and would walk up and almost be nose to nose with the lamb. I kept encouraging, and he finally went in and showed the lamb he was in fact in charge of where he would go and how he would behave with this particular dog. I wouldn't exactly call what Bear did, a grip. Matter of fact, I'm not even sure he ever actually did bite the lamb. I saw snapping teeth, and heard a low growl, but never actually saw a grip but he got in there and mixed it up enough to where he earned the respect of the randy little bastard, and our lesson then went on to be nice, fun, calm and successful for all concerned. The lamb learned respect for the dog, the dog gained some well needed confidence after being hit by the lamb, and I felt better knowing my dog now has another tool to utilize when all his other tactics to move a stubborn sheep fail. As far as whether the lamb will be freezer bound or not, still hasn't been decided. He is a handsome fella, and I do like a good looking sheep. I could, just not use him on young dogs, so I guess I'm still on the rail about him..... Though I need to decide some thing quick, as Bobby has stated that this week after Thanksgiving, he will be slaughtering what ever sheep I ask him to. I just really hate that I have to decide so early in age, who gets whethered and who doesn't. Grrrrr.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

That's My Girl!

5:30am comes early, ( especially for me, as I am NOT a morning person) but that's what time we got up yesterday morning to get things ready and loaded up for the much anticipated trip to Robins farm for a day of friends, food, and working dogs.
We started the morning out by having to sort out a yearling ewe that I was dropping off for Julie. I was headed to get Lex to help with this chore, but at the last minuet decided to take Chris instead. If she is going to start being my all around dog, I guess theres no time like the present. It cant be all training and drilling, I have to start trusting her for the practical work too. It was still dark at 6:00am when Chris and I approached the sheep pasture, and for some odd reason, I felt very calm about my decision and had all the confidence in the world that Chris would locate and bring the sheep up for me. Lex and I have worked in the dark many a time, but Ive never trusted Chris enough to send her out in the dark. Imagine my elation when I realized we, Chris and I have finally come to this em pass in our relationship. Once again in our recent new working relationship, she gave me no reason to doubt her, and with one word from me, smartly and swiftly brought up all the sheep to my feet with no fuss, no muss, for me to find the one I needed. I quickly became consumed in my work, squinting in the dark trying to sort through to find the right ewe, when all the sudden, a dark thought crossed my mind. Oh shit! Wheres Chris?! In the past, Chris would have picked an opportunity such as this, to dive in and maul a sheep, or cut one off and take it to the bottom of the field to ravage it. My first instinct was to to look up towards the bottom of the field. In the early dawn, with the sun just starting to lighten up the morning, I could see no sheep and no Chris down there. I brought my search in closer, and low and behold, there about 15 feet from the little group of sheep I was standing in the middle of, lay Chris, lying down, happily and calmly still holding the sheep to me with no apparent desire to go wrong. I didn't say a word, just kept working on getting the ewe, but I think my smile upon seeing her choosing the right actions all on her own, lit up the whole pasture for us. I found the ewe I was needing, and grabbed a back leg and pulled the sheep into me to hang on to it, while I asked Chris to walk up and flank around between the fence and sheep to drive them off down the pasture so I could load the lone ewe. Being as this was all pretty exciting stuff for Chris,( close work) I wasn't hesitant to ask her, but still a bit leery, and crossed my fingers and hoped she would continue on with her good behavior. With stealth and precision, she quickly dispatched the rest of the sheep, and called off easily, and calmly waited while I loaded the unwilling ewe into a crate for transport. As I opened the pasture gate to push out the crate with the ewe in it, Chris followed happily, she had a gleeful jig in her step, and a look of satisfaction on her face that melted my heart. As I dropped the tailgate on the truck to load the crate, Chris jumped up into the back of the truck, making sure she saw the job through to the end, inspecting the ties to make sure her charge was safe and secure. I called her out of the truck bed, and shut the tailgate and turned to look at Chris and let her know I thought she'd done a nice job of the work this morning, and her face was lit up, with a look that said "What next!?" What heart and drive this little dog has. No quit, and always happy and ready. I simply adore this little dog, and have been so glad I decided to dig down deep within myself for the will and tenacity it was going to take to do the work to turn this girl around. I feel sure that she some how understands this and will continue to reward me for giving her another chance. Chris is truly and simply, in my eyes, an awesome little dog!
More to come later about the fun we had at Robin's as soon as I sort through all the many pics I took, I just had to first brag on my little dog. :)

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Sheep 1 Dogs 0

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Last weekends lessons went well, and Chris and Bear learned a few things. I thought I did too, but some body forget to tell my sheep that we are a new and improved team! I don't think there is anything more frustrating for a handler trying to teach something, and the dog trying so hard to please when using inappropriate sheep for the lessons. Now mind you, my sheep are good sheep, and they are good to work, they just aren't that great to teach on. They are to quick to move off the slightest pressure from the dog, and they have some screwed up notion, that they should always be trying to stay just ahead of me instead of being right behind me. ( or in front of me as I'm always walking backwards) At first I thought it was because the dogs were trying to push them over top of me, but Ive not had a problem with Bear doing this and that's what we are trying to work on with Chris. Maybe its because the sheep are still a bit afraid of Chris, God knows in the past they have had plenty of reason to be. I don't think theres a one of them that doesn't have at least one scar or bad memory from an encounter with her. But you think they'd be a bit more forgiving as its been months since she has gripped or tried to maul one of them, and her work is so much more, um.....sheep friendly? Even if the dog is stopped, and I try to walk away to reposition myself, those damn sheep not only follow me, but try to lead the way!
Yesterday was a most excellent day to work the dogs, so out we went to try to get a little schooling in. I was all excited and had things all planned out as to how we would go about it. I didn't think I needed to have a conference with the sheep before hand, and ask their permission and beg their cooperation, but maybe I missed that chapter in sheep etiquette. As it turned out, they were most uncooperative,and we ended up not so much working on the new stuff, as just going over the old stuff, because we couldn't get the sheep to do what we needed them to do, or behave in the manner we needed them to behave to do the training. My first reaction to their insubordination, was to have a Blue Light Special in pasture #1. If Id have had a megaphone, I'm sure the neighbors would be having fresh lamb in their freezers today and at a very reduced rate! After doing a bit of work with Bear, trying to get him to stay put till I send him, and walking out on the field with a more team player like attitude, which were things we needed to work on anyway, and didn't have to bother the sheep to do, and allowing Chris to burn off some steam just working them, (she has been in heat, and has spent a lot more time in her crate then she has been happy about)I put the dogs up, and went back out to the pasture, and just sat and watched the sheep for a bit. I then decided that some where in my little mob, there is a ring leader. So I started to work them myself, and watch to see exactly who it is that is causing me and my dogs so much grief. Ive concluded that there are a couple of things going on. Two of my sweet little destined for the dinner plate gals are the culprits! One, will take her friends, and split off one way, while the other will take the rest in the opposite direction. Now this would be fantastic if we were out there trying to teach the shed, but we are not. So when I am on the field with them, is it any wonder that they are in 2 sets, one on one side and a bunch on my other, walking around me to end up together in front of me!
Lex use to have a working knowledge of how to shed, it wasn't always pretty, but we were able to get the sheep separated out, and whatever work needed to be done, done. So I got Lex out, and tried to separate out the troublemakers and put them in the catch pen. After about 10 minute, I realized Lex was confused and frustrated and had begun to work on her own, and we were no where closer to getting those sheep separated out than we would have been if Id have brought out my Std.Poodle to do the work. So, to end things on a good note for Lex, I had her do an outrun lift and fetch, and a little flanking and driving to get her back listening and feeling good about herself. I must start remembering to get Lex out once in a while, more often to do things, as she is really starting to slip in the listening department. At her age, it probably would be a good idea to get her hearing checked too, before I blame her solely for her indiscretions.
Needless to say, we didn't get those two separated out, yet. But it is on our list of things to do this week. I just need to think it through and figure out who I will use and how we will go about it, so that both dogs and sheep learn the right lessons. Or, maybe I'll just separate them out myself. Then, maybe we can see some progress and have a good session. Darn sheep! They really do keep things interesting, and I adore them one and all, but they sure can be a pain some times!

Monday, November 10, 2008

What a Fun day!

Yesterday morning, Me, Chris,Hank,and Bear loaded up and headed out to Julie's farm for lessons with Robin. I got there per my usual half an hour late, but no one seem to notice, or, they are all getting so use to Darci standard time that they realize when I say 9:00am, what I really mean is between 9 and 10am. LOL
I was pretty nervous about working Chris, we have been doing so well at home, I was hoping she was becoming comfortable with working and not just working here at home. We really have been working hard to correct some of her and my....shortcomings,and I have been so proud of her, but was nervous non the less. For me, the real test would be taking her someplace else and on different sheep, and seeing if all that we have been working on translated to other places and other sheep. Too, I have been working her on my field, and I wanted to take her back in the round pen where the pressure was the highest, and see if she could/would maintain her new found ease and courage, and not fall back into her fearful sheep eating ways. When we work on the field, she is able to go off contact if she starts to feel to much pressure, but in the round pen, theres no where to go. I was very elated to see her working with ease and with a thoughtful workman like attitude and handling herself in the appropriate manner. She eased around the sheep, almost floating between sheep and fence and kept a nice pace, as opposed to her zinging past them as she had done in the past and taking hold of the first sheep she could get her teeth into. She didn't try to take any sheep down, and those rare couple of times that she did try to grip, one word, and she was outta there and back where she belonged. Then we took her out on the big field, another tense moment for me, as I knew she knew if she wanted to, she could run down a sheep and take it down and maul it and would/could be far enough away to do her damage before anyone could get to her in time to stop it. She has done this in the past, and so I really tried hard to remember to trust my dog, but for Chris and I, this was a real test to determine if all the hard work we have been doing over the last month of working almost daily had really paid off. I am very proud of my dog today. She proved to me that she is worthy of the trust, and that she really wants to work with me and be correct. Which just spurs me on to do even better work and keep this positive vein going for us both. What might seem like trivial baby steps to some, for Chris and I, and where we started back getting into working her again almost a year ago, well, we've come a long way. This was a dog, I really didnt ever want to work again, because she was so dangerous that I feared for the sheep. But I just knew if we could get her straightened back out, that she had it in her to be a nice dog, and Im seeing that come true now, and am loving it! Robin gave us some home work to take home and work on, and it is going to be fun helping her develop her pace and learning to feel her power. We will be heading to Robin's farm next weekend to work some, so I hope that by then we can show her that her time with Chris and I has been well spent.
Bear, and I went first to the round pen, as I hadn't worked him in small spaces and was interested to see how he performed under that kind of pressure. Needless to say, he did well. I got a lot of ribbing about my "free dog" but it was all positive and everyone thought he was a nice dog. So do I. Later we took him on the big field, and again he did a nice job with what he knows and we got home work for him to take home and work on too, which will help him to cast out a bit more on his flanks. He is a bit slicy, but was showing improvements once I figured out (for the most part) what Robin was trying to explain to me, and I got to see what she was talking about. I'm really enjoying Bear, I couldn't have asked for a nicer boy. He and Chris are so different that both are going to teach me alot.
Julie took Hank in the round pen for me, as I asked her to see if she could get him circling and fetching a bit, and see if he could find his balance. It was very unfortunate, that one of the sheep, decided to split off and take a dive into the fence, which cut our work time short. He did however start to do a little circling, and I was pleased to see that. I have a feeling its going to be awhile before Hank gets to working. He is relatively keen, but so much puppy still. I saw him pick up a mouth full of sheep poo, and try to wander off a couple of times. Not things I like to see in a young dog, but that could change, so I will keep him off sheep for a couple more months and see how he does again later. He is just 6 months, so we're in no big hurry to get him going anytime soon. All in all, it was a great day. We met a few new friends, and got to visit with the not so new ones. My dogs performed well, and I was very happy with them. We had a great lunch which rendered most of us, full and lazy afterwards, but that didn't stop us from going back out and working more dogs! I finally got to see Becca's Ted working. I hadn't gotten to see him working since the JK clinic last January. What a change! He is doing so nicely, and what a handsome guy. Too, I was pleased to get to watch Laura's youngen Link working. He is going to be loads of fun for Laura, and a nice fella. Her and her "Mad Spaghetti Noodle" are quite the sight to see and I marveled at Laura's ability to wield that 8 foot piece of plastic pipe! I got to shake hands with a really cute little corgi, who was steadfast in making sure no water got out of the baby pool all day, snuggle and kissed on a sweet little 6 week old BC pup, and enjoyed watching all the other folks working their dogs. It was a good turnout, and Robin had her work cut out for her. I did in fact bring along my camera, but it stayed in the truck. There were a number of other folks taking vid and stills and I am hoping to see what they got soon, so sorry, maybe next time I'll have some to post, but yesterday, I just wasn't in the picture taking mood. Again, I want to thank Julie and Robin for their time and hospitality, it takes a special kind of person to set aside their own personal time for others, and to share their knowledge, and I appreciate them immensely for that, as I attribute most of Chris' and my success to their time, and faith in me and my dog. So this week, we will be doing our home work, and hopefully making more progress towards the ultimate goals of correct, happy, useful working dogs. (and maybe I'll even break out the camera)

Monday, November 3, 2008


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