Sunday, August 31, 2008

Catching Up

Well shoot, I hadn't realized it had been so long since I had posted here. Guess its time to play a little catch up.
Been busy in some ways, and yet not so busy in others. kyle and I have started walking every other day over at Raven Rock Park. A large State Park the lies along the edges of the Cape Fear River.
We have been taking 2 different dogs every trip, and each dog is enjoying it when it is their turn. Some are much more manageable to take than others I must say, but it is a good time to utilize for training as well. The trails are well marked and they each end at a scenic view, be it the Raven Rock itself, or a viewing area of the river, or the Fish Traps Trail where we went the other day. A series of large rock formations that the Indians used to catch fish in naturally, by allowing them to be caught in the shallow formations and tide pools around the large boulders at the waters edge. The drive to the park is less than 2 miles from where we live, so its a great outlet for us and the dogs to exercise and educate ourselves on the natural flora and fauna in this area of the state. So far we have seen a number of fishing birds, but because of the time of day that we go, usually around 7pm we have yet to see much else. but then, we have plenty of wild things that frequent our property here at home, such as racoon's that like to fish at either of the ponds, beavers, otters, a multitude of birds, land and water, bob cats, coyote's, bunnies, deer, and turtles and even a bald eagle landed here once. Granted, it stole a new born lamb, but it was still neat to see. We've had geese land in the pastures and stay and rest and graze a few days before they went on about their migration, which is both noisy and messy, and a few nasty scares because of the cotton mouth snakes down at the ponds. All the critters around here aren't so cute and furry. Some are dangerous and deadly. Makes me fear for Kyle and the dogs, but we cant stay indoors hiding from them. We just carry a big machete when we venture out into the tall grass and watch where we're walking when we go fishing. Kyle, since starting school last week has met a new friend, that shares his love of fishing, and they have been several times this past week, and its good to see them enjoying the camaraderie. Not many kids out here, so it was nice to see such a nice and well mannered young man move in down the street, that enjoys fishing as much as Kyle. Cant imagine where Kyle developed his love of fishing. You'd think as many times as Ive drug the child along with me on fishing trips and outings, throughout the years that he'd be sick of it by now, but he seems to enjoy fishing as much as I do. Though I don't get to fish half as much as Id like to anymore. Utah offered a much wider range of fishing in a closer proximity than Ive had the opportunity to do here in NC.
Surprisingly, my Dad called me the other day, and told me that indeed he was coming out in October from Luxembourg, Europe for a visit. He had told me he was coming in Oct. back earlier this spring, but since I hadn't heard much from him in awhile, I figured he had changed his mind. So we have little time to prepare, but I'm sure I can work out an itinerary and find plenty to keep him occupied during his 3 week visit. He is bringing his girlfriend Karin, and she has horses and enjoys riding, so I'm sure she and I will find time to get away for a bit and do a little riding and get to know each other. Ive never met Karin, and from what I understand, she doesn't speak very much English, so this should prove interesting. Im not very fluent in German. I was hoping Sam (my dad) could/would be able to bring Gyp, the pup thats coming here from Germany out with him when he came, to save some money on air fare for her travle. I talked to him about it back a few months ago and he seemed open to the idea, and asked me about her when he called. As she is only 9-10 months old and hasnt started to do any real training yet, Im not sure he will be able to bring her out, as she wont be where her breeder wants her to be training wise yet. Waaaaaaa! The waiting is hard, especially since Ive only got one dog in training right now, and am waiting for Hank to get some age on him before I can do much with him. I guess Chris will benifit from being the only one I have to work, as she will get all the time and work there is here to do. Stella is still on the back burner, and Im not sure what I'll be doing with her yet, and Lex has pretty much just slowed down so much that she has a hard time keeping up with the quickness of the hair sheep, and isnt able to cover them all anylonger when they try to split. Its kinda sad to see the ole gal try to maintain order, the look on her face when she see's things starting to go wrong is heartbreaking, its a look of panic and despair. She trys so hard, but the old body just isnt able to keep up with her mind. She has aged this last year a lot, with the spaying and gaining of the extra weight, (and she has always been a bit on the chubby side any way)hasnt done much to help matters
and it is sad to see her like this. Ive seen it coming for about a year now, but was loath to really have to think about it in these terms for either of us. She is only eight years old, but i reckon some dogs age faster than others. Though I do think that having pups has taken alot out of her over the years, and it has given me a whole new perspactive on breeding my good working dogs more than once or twice in thier life time, if ever at all. Course, she doesnt mind holding down the couch, so retiring her wont be so hard on her if she has the job of number 1 couch holder to do. Just getting her use to the idea may take some doing. She lives to work even if its hard on her.
Bobby has started back to school, and I didnt get half of what I had wanted him to get done even started. Its just been to hot out to do much. Of course, getting him out of the shop and getting a gun out of his hands and replacing it with the tractor steering wheel,....well, lets just say it doesnt seem to fit in his hands anymore. Come fall though, Im sure he will get to doing a bit of playing catch up himself. Theres lots to do to get ready for winter, and we will have fall lambs on the ground again here in a couple of months too.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Well, its been a tough week around here. Its been slow at the shop, due to school getting ready to start. 25 years of grooming, and there hasn't been a year that just before school starts, that work doesn't drop off. At the rate the economy is rising, its a wonder I have any work at all, seeing as my job really does succeed or not, according to how the world is doing. I cant blame folks, if it were a choice of putting gas in my car, (or diesel in my truck, which is higher than gas these days) to get to work every day, I'm sure Id pick being able to afford the gas, as opposed to getting my dog groomed. Grooming has always been a seasonal job, but summers are usually the best time of the year to make your money. The rising prices of....well.... everything, is putting a damper on that ability to make the most of it. Oh well, sucks to be me right now.
Andy my Std. Poodle, has developed an ear infection, and I am treating that, so more money going out there for meds and vet visits, and I am still struggling trying to find an effective flea preventative for the dogs, and more money is being shoveled out weekly for that, Ive changed their food, (of course to a more costly one) because Lex since being spayed seems to be having itchy skin problems, and changing feeds seems to have cured the problem, but it is cosing me 50 bucks more a week for the new food. Oh well, its whats best for the dogs, and I do see improvements from it. They will always eat better than me. I get hot dogs, they get lamb and chicken. Whats new? I truly understand the term Dog Poor. But I wouldn't have it any other way. To me, they are worth every penny.
Been working Chris a bit this last week, ( its been so nice and cool) and I must say, that having Julie work with her over the past couple of months has proven to have had tremendous effects. She is doing so nicely now, and we are really enjoying the work/training. Its so nice to be able to drop the nervousness of having to always worry she is going to rip a sheep apart. Ive put her in positions several times, giving her ample opportunity to grip, and she has, and this is the cool part, happily and without the least amount of nervousness, pulled sheep off the fence and kept a cool head, and not even thought about gripping. I am pleased, and you can see that she is too. She lives to work sheep, and being able to do it right, makes all the difference in the world for her.
Stella is chomping at the bit so to speak, wanting so badly to get out there and work. Ive not had her on sheep for about 3 weeks or more now. Hoping she will gain more enthusiasm when next I do bring her out. Maybe in a couple more weeks, I will. Last night, with a storm brewing, we had a nice game of fetch, and she was so into the game, that the thunder had very little if any effect on her. She may just get over her thunderphobicness to a tolerable degree after all. We'll just have to wait and see, but if last night was any indication, it was a positive one.
I got to visit with Roy last week, his new mom stopped in the shop to have his nails trimmed. He seems to be settling in and they really do adore him and he them. It is good to see. I still miss him. He is a very neat dog.
Since loosing Rose, I am down to 7 dogs, ( though it really feels like 6 seeing as Bruin lives out with the sheep)I haven't been this dog low in years. But given the fact of vet costs and feed bills and such, I'm going to keep it down, and leave the slot open in expectation/anticipation of Gyp coming in from Germany some time this year when her training is satisfactory from her breeders standpoint to send her. I am very excited about Gyp coming, and patience some times is a hard emotion to master when such a special gift is so looked forward to. Especially since Ive known about her since last February or so. But she is only 9 months old now, so we have a bit longer to wait. Still, I cant wait for the day I can pick her up from the airport, and start the bonding process. So far it sounds like she is turned on, and coming along nicely.
Rain, oh wonderful rain, has graced our little farm now for several weeks, and the pastures look great! The horses and sheep are fat and slick, and shiny, and I can finally breath a sigh of relief that I can see that there is more than enough feed to support everything. I will continue my Indian Rain Dancing as it seems to be working. Having so many fire ants around helps to remind me daily to dance, especially when I stand accidentally on a nest of them for more than 0.05 seconds! They may be tiny, but the are aggressive little warriors, and they pack a hell of a punch when they bite!
This weekend, since the weather is holding in the 80's I am going to be outdoors as much as possible getting things tidied up around the place. Seems there is always some thing needs fixing or improved upon, mowed, or built. But, Id rather be doing things outdoors, than being stuck in the house vacuuming or dusting or mopping. The dogs will enjoy the freedom of having free run and "helping out" for a few days. And, now that the grasshoppers are gone, it seems to be prime cricket hunting season now. At least they stay more grounded and don't jump all over on me, and the dogs seem to have developed a taste for them as well.
Bobby said this morning that he is going to fire up the burn pile today. Good thing, cause I have been trying real hard over the past month or so to fill that big hole up with junk that's long needed to be tossed out. Maybe we'll roast our supper of hot dogs out there this evening! LOL

Sunday, August 3, 2008

What a fun day I had on Saturday. As I get to know more folks here in NC I am beginning to be not as home sick as Ive been in the past couple of years. Its not easy to find folks with commonalities to make lasting friendships with. Especially given the fact that I have chosen to spend my life with multiple dogs, and lots of folks just cant see how/why Id want to do that! I knew the day my friend Julie asked me how many dogs I had, and I ashamedly and looking down at the floor admitted my dog total was at 9 dogs at the moment, (though at times its been few and far between that theres been less, and certainly times there have been more) And she laughed and said to me: "Why do you say that like its a bad thing!" that she and I had that wonderful commonality. Laura was standing there then too,( a proud owner of 5 dogs herself)and thought it strange that I thought that folks would find that odd about me. Some folks just aren't what they seem around here, then there are those, ( and you ALL know who you are!) that are gratefully so much more than what they seem. So, I happily set out yesterday morning to go over to my friend Julie's to work dogs, which is becoming a regular affair that me and the dogs so look forward to. We especially like it too when Laura comes and we get to visit with her and her crew as well. So I was running late per as my usual, so had to hurry and run dogs and feed pups, and get everyone situated for my day away from home. So everything was a bit rushed. I hadn't gotten through town yet, when I hear some thing coming from the back seat that doesn't jive with the sounds that should be coming from back seat where, given that there are 4 dogs, two adults and 2 pups back there. I hear paper tearing sounds. I take a quick look in the back to see Hank and Rose standing on a 50 lb sack of chicken feed (crumbles no less) that I was delivering to Julie, and they are trying their little darnedest to get that bag torn open! Enter 1st unscheduled stop in the already rushed morning. I have to pull over and cover the sack up, so those crazy hyped up pups cant tear it open and strew chicken crumbles all over the back seat of my truck! Should have just thrown it in the truck bed, but covering it up with the blanket that was back there was good enough for the time being. I get back on the road, and finally get through town, and am again, happily driving down the highway listening to some good R/B tunes, and then I smell some thing.....Again I look back, to see that Miss Rose has decided to blow chunks of her breakfast all over the back seat. Great. I'm not pulling over. So, I open a window to suck out the smell of half digested kibble mixed with half a can of Chicken Soup puppy food, and a few grasshoppers that Rose had consumed before we left the house. Yuck. Ive never known Rose to be car sick, but theres always a first time, and it was a hot and rushed morning with lots of things going on and so I understood it was probably a bit to overwhelming for her. Course, Rose never does anything half assed, and within 20 minuets, deposits the other half of her breakfast on top of Julie's feed. (luckily I had covered it with the blanket) but I still have another easy 45 minuets before I get to Julie's place. All I can do is bank on the fact that Rose is such a prissy ass and wouldn't dream of touching it, much less stepping in it and smearing it all over the place. Hank on the other hand is all about getting messy and playing in stuff that's just gross, and I feared that once he discovered both the messes on opposite ends of the back seat that Rose had left, not only would it be all over him, but everywhere he touched till we got there. Enter 2nd unscheduled stop. Gotta get Hank up front away from the spew. Putting dogs in crates for short travel from now on is looking like a better and better idea. So I get Hank up front, and he's not arguing. He has 2 full air conditioning vents blowing hard and cold right on him. Rose has taken back up her resident seat on the console next to me and Chris and Lex are in the back floor board per as their usual. Now, maybe we can get somewhere.
We finally get to Julie's albeit an hour late and she and Laura have already worked their dogs,so I let my crew out to say hi and mingle (while I clean up Rose's mess's in the back seat) and shortly there after we get to work. Chris was first, and Julie had the idea that she would present a few new challenges (more pressure)to Chris to give her more opportunity to fall back on her default activities of gripping since she is proving that she can work in tight spots. I have to say at this juncture, that gripping really isn't a proper way of describing exactly what Chris does. A mere grip, is a dog that may pull a bit of wool. Chis likes to tear chunks of flesh. It was a good idea on Julie's part, and I could see almost immediately, that upping the ante was exactly what Chris needed at this point, and though she did start to try to fall back into sheep eating mode because of the added pressure, she didn't draw any blood and had a pretty decent work. She has a ways to go, but I plan on entering her in a novice trial in September, so now its time to get her going right and start expecting more from her in the way of appropriate behavior. I hope she is ready to be relatively competitive by then and doesn't get DQ"d. Better yet, I hope by then, that I can trust her in a trial situation and run her at all. She tends to get pretty amped up when sheep are in the picture. We'll just have to wait and see. Then, after Chris, we put the pups in with the sheep. Oh how fun! They finally turned on, and in a big way compared to what they have done, (or not done) in past introductions with sheep. To hear about that, just go over to the puppy blog and read all about it.
Laura and Julie and I had a grand time watching them, and we were all just soooo pleased to see them so interested and gung ho. Later I learned that we had been invited over to Mary and Tony Lupers for lunch. I had met Mary a couple of times, and will always remember her wonderful Lamb she prepared for everyone at the Jack Knox clinic I attended back in January. It was soooo good and turned me on to eating lamb so much that I have already picked out one of my spring lamb whethers that I plan on putting in the freezer as soon as he puts on a few more pounds. Mary was making BLT"S for lunch on toast. And aside from the tomatoes, ( I don't care for them) it was a great meal, with a wonderful hostess in her lovely home, complete with, and this was what made it really so great, complete with begging Border Collies! I felt so much at home having little inquisitive noses and big begging eyes politely waiting for a handout. Alas, they did not want my tomatoes though, but Laura helped me out and ate them right on up for me. Mary has a beautiful home, one that she just makes ya feel welcome in as soon as ya walk in the door. She was a lot of fun to visit with and we had some pretty good laughs while we were there. After lunch Laura and Julie and I had planned on going over to a local dairy that has a quaint little store that sells milk, cheeses, butter, and best of all, home made ice cream! Julie and I had stopped over there once before and so I already knew what I was in for and my mouth was watering all the way there. Their double dutch chocolate ice cream is to die for! But,.....what this?? A closed sign!! Did they not realize "I" had come all the way from Mamers to to have a bowl of their wonderful taste sensation!!! Oh the disappointment. So with heads hung low, Laura decided she would just go on home, (she is on some meds from a staph infection she has in her ankle and they were making her tired) and Julie and I decided to go back to her place and drown our sorrows and take a walk with the dogs to the creek. All I can say about the walk was it was hot! The dogs loved it and had a great time, but darn I sure am looking forward to some cooler weather. When we got back, I think the heat of the day had taken its toll on all of us, and Julie and I had been having a yawning contest for a couple of hours already, so she decided she needed a nap, and I decided I did too. I loaded up, or tried to load up dogs to leave, but everyone was being resistant about loading. They wanted to stay. Which didn't surprise me, they always have a good time there. Before I left, Julie and I were talking about the pups, and how they looked and how they went about handling the sheep so differently. I mentioned that even though I was not very familiar with their paternal grandmother Kim, I had seen pics of her and heard through the grapevine that she was a really nice dog before she had met with an untimely accident and passed over the bridge. Rose is the spitting image of her paternal grandmother, and I hope/suspect, that she will be much like her in her abilities. Julie just happen to have a few key chains with pics of Kim on them, that she had won at a trial, and gave me one. How cool is that! I showed it to Rose on the way home and she approved and thought it was pretty cool too, and wanted to know if that's what she'd look like when she grew up. Yep! I told her, I'm sure you will.