Sunday, October 26, 2008

Some Pics of Bear working

I sure have been enjoying Bear. He is a nice little dog, and lots of fun to work. I think we're going to make a nice team.

Bear Doing What He Loves

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Monday, October 20, 2008

All's Well, That Ends Well.

Well, its been an incredibly quiet weekend around the place. What with everyone once again snugly sequestered in their pastures and Jack happily going about the business of breeding his ewes, and the dogs settling in with the newcomer Bear.(this is Darci trying not to make a face :{ when she says the name) Its been nice to just hang out and enjoy the fall weather and see the changes that are taking place with the animals and the land. The trees aren't as spectacular as I'd hoped they'd be, mostly just shedding their leaves instead of changing colors. The pastures are starting to die out and its time to start setting out round bales again. The horses are starting to look a bit shaggy as they start to put on their winter coats and loose the slick glossy look of pasture fed fat and sassy horses. The sheep too are putting on the wool lately, and Jack looks magnificent with his long full mane adorning his shoulders and chest. How could any ewe not want to be associated with such a handsome fella! One of the nicest things I can appreciate about the fall around here, is that the bugs seem to have disappeared. No more grasshoppers, no more crickets and flys, AND! You can actually open your mouth and have a conversation and not have a hundred gnats flying in your mouth and around your face. (I still honor the theory that bug spray in this neck of the woods serves as an attractant instead of a deterrent.) The lawn mower has been put away, which ends another season of Ipod shake your groove thing mowing. I especially do enjoy mowing to the tunes while shutting out the world and mowing my name, or other things depending on how I'm feeling about the neighborhood at that time in the grass. The days are becoming shorter, so I'm having to re adjust my evening schedule for working dogs and feeding livestock. I did this summer enjoy it still being light at 9pm but the trade off to fall, is getting to work all dogs at 5pm and not half kill everyone, dogs and sheep due to the extreme summer humidity. Yesterday, I actually had to dig out a sweat shirt to be comfortable outside. We have closed off access to one of the pastures that the horses frequented, and are preparing that pasture for planting a winter feed on. I think Bobby said it was called Pearl Millet, but I also heard mention of Rye too. Seems last weekends little boot up the backside has spurred on incentive to get back to work on the place and get ready for winter. Though it could have happened anyway, without my intervention, however, I like to think I had some thing to do with it. Bobby and his bro Terry have been spotted this past week, with their heads together walking the pastures and talking about different types of forage and rotating pastures, to save $$ on hay. I dare not intrude on the master minds at work, lest it distract them from their serious discussions about animal nutrition. Which so far has amounted to numerous cell phone calls from them in the pastures to me in the house, with them asking "can the horses AND sheep eat X type of forage?" Not a good question to ask grown up out in the West me, as I'm still having a hard time adjusting to the fact that you cant grow pretty alfalfa hay in this sandy soil, and am still willing to give it a go. They say it wont happen. Oh well, I'll be happy with just about anything, as long as its not all talk and some thing animal edible actually does get planted. And soon I hope, as fall also brings about the Deer hunting season, and that is an easy distractor for those two. Buck fever is in the air, I can smell the testosterone all around. Men are frequenting the shop daily wanting their fav rifles that Bobby has been cleaning and sighting in and working on getting ready for them for "The Hunt". A phrase around here that Ive yet to conceive as particularly accurate. To sit in a tree and bait the deer and shoot them when they come to eat the corn, just doesn't feel sport man like to me, and as much as I enjoyed hunting back home, out here Ive yet to be able to gather up the incentive to climb a tree and sip coffee while waiting for the deer to come. I would imagine that for those that have never hunted any other way, that this seems normal and right, but I'm not of that mindset.
Another thing that fall brings, is the leaving of some birds and the coming of others. Ive been having an interesting time trying to learn all the different types of birds that frequent the place, and am sad to see some of them go. I was really enjoying the sounds of the geese as they frequented the ponds and filled the sky's with their V shaped honking nightly as they flew overhead. Ive been thinking of having Kyle build a few bird feeders, and finding out what types of foods the winter birds around here prefer, but am afraid that the neighbors feral cats would just have a hay day if I actually lured in prey for them. I guess the Death To Cats message that I mowed into the side yard this summer ( you;ll have to go back to earlier post "I don't hate cats" to understand that one) went un-noticed by my neighbor, as there still seem to be a wide variety of them wandering about.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

What rhymes with Bear??

Well, we seem to have a new addition to the BC clan. His name is Bear, (yuck, I don't like the name) So put on your thinking caps, and help him find another name I can tag onto the front or back of Bear, so that I can start to phase out the name to change it. Bear is a little over a year old and semi started. He is a very sweet dog, and has a lovely biddable temperament. He is keen to work, and a very easy dog to handle. I had gone out and looked at him several weeks ago, but had to for a few personal reasons decide to pass on him. Well, I got a call the other day from the gal that was training him, asking if I could make an offer on him, and that any offer would be considered. Due to the economy at the moment, I told her I just couldn't afford to buy a dog at any price right now, and even though he was a nice little dog, I appreciated her thinking about me, but just couldn't expend the monies for another dog at the moment. By the end of our conversation, she had given me the dog and we were making arrangements on where to meet so she could deliver the dog to me that day. Amazing how things work out some times. I like Bear, he is a nice little dog. Very easy to be around, well mannered, and has a recall to die for. All the other dogs, after the initial pushing and shoving and establishing their places have accepted him and he them, and everyone is getting along pretty good. Hank has his nose a bit out of joint about him right now. He has been the baby around here, and is a bit of a Mamma's boy, so having another dog that wants to be Velcro on me has him very worried that I will love the new dog more than I love him. Dogs. Such emotional creatures. He does, in his defense, try to engage Bear in play, but Bear is just not into it yet. I can see though that he is starting to become a little interested in Hanks puppy antics, and am sure that in time Hank will win him over and have a new buddy to play with. Hank can be very persuasive and persistent. I worked Bear on sheep two times yesterday, and he did a nice job with what he knows. Again, he is a very easy dog to handle, has good balance, and reads his sheep well. He moves off pressure nicely and isn't wide at all. I didn't see any slicing and no gripping, so it looks as though we have some thing to work with albeit he is a bit slow just yet, but then, I'm use to working with quick Chris, so having a dog like Bear around may just be refreshing. He is house broke and has wonderful manners. What a wonderful gift. ( as opposed to some one Else's problems, which, has happened to me in the past) I am pleased that the folks that were in charge of Bear's placement would feel that I make an acceptable home for Bear. That says a lot and makes me feel good. So, I'm looking forward to working more with Bear, and getting to know him, though he pretty much has "bear ed" all insofar as who he is already. Just a fella that wants nothing more than to be loved, work sheep, and please me, and is eager and willing for all three. So, we welcome Bear into the pack, and look forward to seeing him develop his abilities.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Fence Fixed, Happy horses, and an amorous Ram

Ah, Home Sweet Home

Well, the fence got fixed, finally. It actually didn't take as much prodding as Id thought it would. All I had to do was asked for his check book. When he asked why I needed it, I told him to pay the guy I hired to fix the fence! (thanks Julie, It worked!)
So we have happy horses and now I understand why Jack was so upset with the horses being on the pasture with HIS ewes. His actions of the last few days had me so startled, as he is normally a very laid back ram, that I started to keep a close eye one him, and lets just say, he's in a little bit of an.....attentive mood at the moment.

Come on Baby, just a little kiss...

OoooooooWeeee! I Luvs me some sweet ewe sugar!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Shakin' but not stirred. A recipe and a question.

Whats a good recipe to test your Border Collie pups recall? Well, that's an easy one. Have a lame DH that has apparent fencing issues. A big tree knocking down storm,(and big parts of trees fall on your fence) A couple of relatively bright horses, and an unplugged electric fence. (because tree fell on your electric fence)Simply allow DH to ignore said fence problem for Oh, lets say....5 FLIPPIN" WEEKS! Stir in 3 Border Collies, one Std. Poodle, and a GSD, and you have the recipe for disaster.
Yesterday morning was like any other morning around here, get up, shower, get a couple of cups of joe in me, get dressed and then start opening up all the crates to let the dogs outside before heading to work. As they are all standing at the door waiting to be let out, I realize I have a rock in my shoe. No biggie. I open the door,let loose the dogs of Hell, and take off my shoe to dump out the pebble. Every morning the dogs run straight out back behind the shop, to empty themselves first, and then make the rounds around the yard to say good morning to Bruin and to see whats changed since they were last out there. As I start off the porch, I see that the dogs are uncharacteristically scattered around the front yard, and I become quickly aware that the dogs aren't acting right. Some are standing with what look like expressions of disbelief on their faces, others are looking like they know better, and then theres 6 month old turned on to anything that's moves, Hank. Though Hank and I have gone the rounds about the horses, and he now knows better than to go onto the pasture where the horses reside, we hadn't had a chance to have any lessons in the appropriate conduct of what you should do when you have said horses standing in your front yard. Well, theres no time like the present I reckon. It was my good fortune, that first and foremost, Hank had to really pee, and as I came off the porch, he was standing there (squatting there) in the yard, letting the pressure off his bladder with a most intense look on his face staring at the horses (who were calmly and happily munching my front yard down with no clue what was going to happen next,) in anticipation for the chase he thought was about to ensue. I was in a quiet state of panic, all 5 dogs out there loose and with no apparent direction as of yet, because I haven't found my voice, and knew if I reacted wrongly, that this could have a really bad outcome. So I set my sights on Hank first, and knelt down and coo'd "Here Hank, That'll Do" Opened my arms wide to give him a fun place to come into, and dice. I swear to you the dog did a double take. "But Leash Lady!! Cant you see there are horses in the front yard!!" A Little sterner, "Hank. That will DO! HERE!" And slapped my leg for good measure and just another cue so there was no reason for mixed signals. I can see the strained and torn look on Hank's face. Decisions, decisions.....I can see him weighing his options at this point, and try, by reiterating to break his thought process, "Hank! Here! That'll DO!"
I think at this point, I may have miss read my dog. Id thought he was confused/torn between his urge to chase horses verses his need to comply with my wishes, when in fact, I think his confused expression came from the fact that he was still, through all this, peeing, and was wondering how one little dog could hold so much pee! Ive had horses and Border Collies for many years, and so this was not the first time this had happened over the years, and Ive learned through trial and error, what to, and not to do. Taking a step towards the pup was asking to set things in motion. Leash Lady steps toward puppy, puppy sees that he will be caught, and kenneled. Not Hank's idea of fun. Unfortunately, I at the moment, simply was NOT as interesting as a couple of horses standing unfenced in HIS territory. Its my good fortune, that my horses are pretty laid back when it comes to dogs. They have had dogs trailing their hocks for many a year, and just aren't all that worried about them. So, when Hank shot off after them, it was then "them" that displayed an expression of shock and disbelief, and for a moment, were caught in indecision themselves, and looking at me in that split second trying to figure out if I was really going to allow this to happen. They spun together, seemingly to be thinking as one, to survey their options, and hey, the road looks good, lets run there! I live at the end of a dead end road, so going onto the road really isn't a dangerous choice, its just that I doubt my neighbors would appreciate the circus like atmosphere of two horses and 5 dogs, (cause you know everyone else would follow if I ran after the dog/horse chase scene)running through their yards at 7:30 in the morning. I am able to recall all the other dogs, and lock them in a kennel, and I have to say, at this point, I am very grateful that everyone understood the gravity of this situation, and didn't choose this opportunity to test my authority. As it turned out, the horses were a bit unsure about actually leaving the property, and decided about the time they hit the end of the driveway, that they'd rather not run blindly into the unknown, and turned on a dime, back towards the house and yard. Now, instead of Hank chasing the horses, he has 2 horses running head on straight towards him on a seemingly collision course. Talk about shattering a puppy's confidence! Can we say tucked tail and horrified expression with mouth agape frantically looking for a place to run silently screaming "HELP LEASH LADY!!!" While stopping all forward motion and standing in disbelief. It was at this moment that I took the opportunity to look like the hero in my pups eyes. I ran out in front of the horses to counter their direction, and scooped up Hank in the process. The horses changed direction as I had supposed they would, and settled in over in the side yard. It wasn't till then, as I sat on the ground with a puppy in my lap, that I realized I was shaking like a leaf. Hank was grateful for my timely save, and I broke out into hysterical laughter while Hank tail wagging to beat the band, and tongue frantically licking my face, in his own doggie fashion laughed gratefully right along with me. Once my face had been thoroughly washed, and I realized Hank was no worse for the scare, I promptly deposited him in the kennel with the others and proceeded to figure out what to do next. My horses are as gentle as a lamb, but they are no dummies either. Freedom isn't some thing they experience everyday, and it is rather a pleasing notion for them, to stay that way. They are NOT the type of horses to stand and wait for you to walk up to them with halter and lead rope in hand to be caught and corralled. Granted, their pasture consists of 5 acres of grass and woods and their own personal pond, but still, it is all enclosed behind electric fencing and this my friends is REAL freedom! So, we stand across the yard eye balling each other trying each in our own way to figure out what the other is going to do next. One thing Ive learned about horses throughout the years, is that the best way to get a horse to come toward you, is to ignore them and pretend you are very interested in some thing just there in front of you on the ground. Their curious nature cant stand not knowing, and they have to come closer to investigate. As I turn my attention from them, and start to scour my immediate area,low and behold, thanks to my son, the grain bucket, has not been returned to the tack shed where it belongs, but is instead, laying just in front of the tack shed. Yes, the coveted Blue Bucket! The one every horse and sheep on the place KNOWS, yields the grains and goodies. I say in a louder than normal voice to any horse that might be listening, "Ah! Look what I found! The Blue bucket!" And lift it high and shake it just for good measure for all to see. Heads popped up from all over the place. The horses take a few tentative steps towards me necks outstretched, sheep come running up the pasture at break neck speed, and with a flourish, I throw open the tack shed door to reveal the sweet smells of what lies therein. As I step back out of the tack shed with the Blue Bucket filled with sweet feed all sheep and horse eyes are on me. Well, this has been a lovely turn about. "So, you ladies want some of this??" I ask as I shake the bucket to show them that yes, there is in fact yummy grain to be had if you'll simply just walk this this way. At that point, I know Ive got em. Confidently, I stride to the sheep pasture gate, without even looking back to see if said mares are behind me, I know the way to their brain is through grain. Its unfortunate at this point however, as I reach the gate, that I realize that I probably shouldn't have made such a grand production of having a Blue Bucket full of grain, as I now have a dozen sheep clamoring at the gate for first dibs at the coveted "Blue Bucket O grain." What does a girl do at this point, when you have horses very much wanting to stick their heads in the bucket, and breathing down the back of your neck, are pushed up against the gate, and on just the other side of said gate are a dozen excited and hungry for grain sheep? Well, I'll tell ya! I stick my hand in the Bucket O Grain, give the horses each a nibble to keep them interested while I squeeze through the gate to avoid any sheep getting out, as I walk across the field, Ive no doubt the sheep will follow the bucket, I deposit some of the grain out on the ground to hold the sheep, and return to the horses, open the gate, offer them the contents of the Bucket O Grain, if again they will just walk this way. Such compliant creatures horses can be when they think they will get a handful of sweet feed. And like the good equines that I know in my heart that they are, they both waltz into the sheep pasture with expectant looks shouldering each other and vieing for position to be the first to get their nose in the Bucket O Grain. As I dumped out the remaining grain for the horses, I take a moment to stand there and start to regain that wonderful feeling that all is well, and right once again in my little world. As I am reveling in my own self inflicted pride at having gotten under control what could have been a really disastrous morning, and taking a well earned moment to heave a large sigh of relief, I am poked in the butt by a Big White Dog. It is Bruin, my LGD. He is looking at me as if to say WTF!! "Who! And What? is this you have brought onto my pasture!??" "This simply wont do Lady! They don't belong here!" As Bruin strides over to the horses tail curled up over his back and head held high to investigate the newcomers I'm thinking this might not be a good thing. So, as I am still planning on heading to work this morning and don't have time to watch this meeting play out, I gather up Bruin and take him off the pasture much to his consternation, and lock him in a kennel. Luckily, I put him in this kennel almost nightly when I work dogs, so he doesn't interfere with the training, (after all in his mind they are HIS Sheep and no one should be chasing them around, its his job to see to it that those kinds of things just don't happen and he takes his job very seriously) so he is compliant and settles in quickly. I put his friend Andy in with him for company, and again, all seems well. But not for long. As I am standing there with my hands on my hips surveying the situation, and thinking again that all is well. The grain is quickly disappearing and everyone is starting to take notice of their new pasture mates. I really never thought Id ever see the day that this would happen, as Jack my ram, was raised with the horses and has had a running love affair with my Morgan mare since he was a lamb, but all the sudden, he looks up and shakes his head in disbelief and takes a running charge at the mare! As he is almost upon her, he stands and rams her in the stomach with his head! Now its my turn, and the mares, to stand and stare in disbelief! As if the first head butt wasn't enough to show his displeasure with having horses in his pasture, he again, stands and head butts the mare in the stomach. At this, the mare has had about enough, and as Jack lands his next blow, he ends up underneath the mare. Being the calm and good natured gal that she is, she tries to simply step away and over the crazy ram, barley avoiding stepping on him and breaking his leg in the process. Holy shit! Is this morning ever going to have a happy ending so I can get to work!!?? So, now as the mare is trying to avoid Jack, and trys to keep away from him by running away from him, he continues to pursue her. Bringing with him the entire flock, and CoCo the other mare now sees Julie the Morgan mare running, and kicks up her heels to join in the race. Now WTF do I do!? I cant put the horses back in their pasture, as its obvious they have found a way out, seeing as they were standing in my front yard this morning, and I don't have time to walk the fence line and fix where ever it is they have gotten out, I know from experience I cant put Jack in the catch pen, as he will just jump the fence to get back with the ewes, and I cant put them all in the catch pen, because there isn't enough feed in there for them all. I simply throw up my hands in disgust and say work it out, what will be will be, and climb in my truck, turning my back on the whole thing and drive to work.
So, after a long day of work and worrying about whats happening back at home, I finally get back home and all looks well. Apparently they got things worked out, as everyone, sheep and horses alike are heads down apparently unscathed happily munching away in a contented and relaxed fashion. And me, now laughing at myself thinking all that worry for nothing. Until......I look over the pasture doing a head count to see that no one has been injured in the mornings unsupervised races, and my eyes fall upon my newly erected panels that I risked life and limb and waged war on the wasps to gain access to the lumber for, to see them laying in pieces scattered on the ground. I drop my chin to my chest in despair, and for a fleeting moment, I think what would it be like to not have these animals to have to contend with each day. What would it be like to not have to brave the weather at all hours of the day and night to care for them. Not have to worry about the rising costs of feed and availability, or lack there of it, and maybe just grow corn instead on those pastures that they are living on. I slink into the house and sit down with my head in my hands. What would it be like I think again to myself?? As if on cue, Lex runs into the room and places her head in my lap and looks up at me with such devotion and that "Got Sheep!?" look in her eyes, and I know what it would be like. It would be like a death sentence, is there life after sheep and sheepdogs?? Her look, at that very low moment for me, told me all I needed to know, and that is, that I really don't want to know the answer to that question. So, I pick my feeling sorry for my ass self up off the couch, tell Lex, come on girl, we got some panels to fix and a DH to kick in the ass and walk back into the world of stock and stock dogs, that I know I never want to live without.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Ain't this the cutest puppy ya ever saw!?

Can anyone guess who this is?? I have like a gazillion pics of Chris as a puppy. She was just so darned cute, I couldn't keep a camera off her. Alas, they are all on the other computer, and I am just not quite computer savvy enough yet to figure out how to get them from there to here. (my lap top)
I did however, manage to get a couple of them sent over and so thought Id share. These were taken when she was about 10 weeks old. Her B-Day is December 24th she is a Christmas eve baby. Any wonder why her name is Chris? I struggled to find a name that would signify the special night in which she was born, and she came close to being: Noel, Crist, Crista, Holly, Star, and Navida. (the latter being Christmas in Spanish) I liked Crist, but it just didn't roll off my tongue very well, and so it just got shortened to Chris. Not much of a Christmasy name, but she wears it well. Nothing much more to add, anyone who knows me or reads this blog knows how I feel about this little dog. I adored her the first time I set eyes on her at 5 weeks, fell in love with her when she was offered to me at 9 weeks, and the love affair continues today

Tuesday, October 7, 2008


I started Chris tonight on whistles. I am, under no uncertain terms, nothing less than amazed and impressed. I started off with a simple stop whistle. After asking her to walk up on the sheep, I then asked her to lie down, and gave her the whistle. I only did this two times, left out the verbal and just gave the whistle the third time just to see if she was listening and if perhaps she would at least hesitate. Imagine my surprise when she dropped right into a down just as I gave the stop whistle. I thought, OK a fluke? We'll try again. Asked her to walk up, also giving what I want to be a walk up whistle, but not really pushing that, and then gave the stop whistle. Again, immediate stop. Hmmmmm. Interesting. OK lets take it a step further, because she seems to be enjoying this new learning experience. I gave a walk up whistle, and sure enough, she started to walk up. I let her walk up on the sheep about 20 feet and gave the stop. Boom, she hit the ground. Cool! We did a little more work, and I tried the stop while she was in more motion, and had to whistle and then ask and then whistle again, but she is getting it. Cant ask to much all at once. I was happy just to get a stop. Even if it was at the moment while she is moving slow. Its a start! On another note. I have been working Chris every night now for almost two weeks,(I'm loving this cool weather!) and I have to say that she is finally starting to engage her brain "before" we get to the pasture gate, instead of getting all stupid and going in there acting like she'll just die if she doesn't get to the sheep. This has been a hard one for her to manage in the past, and she has really improved. Transformations in Chris over the last 6 months have been monumental, and I just love working with this Little dog. Everyday we get more and more in tune with each other and the journey has been nothing short of inspiring and gratifying.
Going to have to find another whistle though. I'm using a Montana light, and I like the sound and range it allows me, but after using it more than I ever have at a stretch, my mouth is a bit sore. Id thought it was a relatively small whistle as whistles go, and already tossed a half moon because it was to big. So I'm looking into the Baby Blaster. I found one for 22.00 dollars on a UK site, as opposed to the 40 dollar ones I found on USA sites and even with shipping it will only come to 26 bucks, but it says it has a flute like sound. Not sure Id like that. But, I spect I'll probably have a small investment in whistles till I find the right one.

Monday, October 6, 2008

My LOL Panels

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See that little black and white dot behind the sheep, creeping up and pushing the sheep through my newly build (shabbily built) home made panels? That would be my Chris, getting the hang of things. Its hard to get decent working pics of Chris, especially, when I'm the one holding the camera. But, that's neither here nor there. I didn't build them to take great pics. I "thought" Id built them to help the dogs, when in fact, I do believe they have had a two fold effect. Firstly, the dogs, Chris in particular, is leaning to slow things down and learning to read her sheep better. By understanding that they all need to go between the panels, she is having to read her sheep more and better to get the task done right. Me, it is teaching to stop watching the dog so much, and start watching the stock. In the past, Ive felt it imperative to keep both eyes firmly planted on Chris, as she would, if you blinked, tear into the closest sheep and rip chunks of flesh. As her fear has subsided to an almost non existent degree, we are both able to relax and concentrate on working instead of me having to constantly stay on guard to protect the sheep. This transformation has been the most rewarding and joyful experience for both of us. Ive always known that under her fears lay a pretty nice little dog, and much to my/our pleasure she is proving that theory to be true. Alas, old habits die hard, and I'm glad that I put the panels out, because not only is it helping the dog, but it is reminding me,( more like a blasting wake up call) that I need to watch my stock in order to help my dog be correct. The wasps have been uninvited from the shed, not that they went willingly, but, they went non the less, and we are now clear to go in and gather the rest of the lumber to finish building the rest of the panels. I may even have enough to build a pen! Hank however, is coming up quickly, and learning the manners he needs to succeed to the next levels of his training and my time and lumber would probably be best spent in fixing the round pen so we have a place to start working with him in the next month or so. We'll just have to see how it goes. But for now, I am pleased as punch that I have finally gotten off my duff and started to form a plan of action for the dogs as I have finally begun to see that we just may after all begin to become successful.

Todays photo diva's




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Sunday, October 5, 2008

Just a few pics of the pups today

Just A Couple of Things....

Kyle and I spent part of the day yesterday building panels for working the dogs and sheep to set out on one of the pastures. Well, I reckon to be more accurate, we spent a better part of the day scouting out the wood to make them with. Bobby is a pack rat, and Id often wondered why he was always bringing bits and scraps of what I considered junk home and building little piles of junk all over the property. Theres a big pile of cinder blocks down past the horse pasture, hidden in the woods, various piles of wood and ply wood here and there, piles of metal, and pipe, about a hundred T posts of various lengths, a couple of doors complete in the frames, pieces of rolled up fencing...well, you get the picture. So when I got the idea to build the panels, I knew there was plenty of lumber around to accomplish this. All I needed beyond the wood, was a good sturdy hammer, and some nails. Those I have my own stash/supply of in my tack room, along with the women's handy man roll of duck tape, a roll of wire and a pair of pliers. I do believe a gal can fix/make just about anything with those few tried and true trusty items, and have proved this point on several occasions. Oh, and baling string. Ya cant go wrong when ya have baling string. I firmly believe there is no end to what you can do with a roll of duck tape and baling string and a handy dandy pocket knife. So, with a plan in mind, we started scouring the piles of wood to gather what we needed. You'd be surprised the creepy crawlies you will uncover/discover when you start moving things around that have been sitting around for awhile. Besides one black snake that we allowed to go free because they are good mousers, we ran across numerous black widow spiders, a huge grub like thing, countless fire ant mounds and a very large nest of wasps. The wasps were a problem, as they were guarding a very large source of wood that I was interested in. I am allergic to bee and wasp stings, so of course you know I sent Kyle into the shed to go through the wood. All the wasps seemed happy to simply sit on their huge nest that hung just to the left of where the wood was stacked, and so we thought it would be safe, as we observed them for a bit, before attempting to invade their space. We concluded that if we were just calm and quiet and didn't disturb them they would remain on the nest. So as I stood just outside the shed, I sent/shoved my son in to gather pieces of lumber that I pointed at as he uncovered them. Curious things wasps are, and they seem to have their shit together in so far as who does what to protect the nest. As Kyle entered the building, I watched the nest. I have to say it was very interesting to see what happened next. There wasn't a general buzz on the nest, it was all very quiet and well planned and very simple, their plan of attack. First, they sent out a scout. He flew over and buzzed around Kyle, and then returned to the nest. Then, a couple more flew off and did the same thing. After the first few started buzzing around, Kyle, started to become concerned and nervous. "OK ya big baby, they're just little wasps, keep pulling wood and don't worry about them. You know Kyle, if you start to get scared, they can smell it on you and will attack." Apparently, these were not words that instilled confidence in my son to keep going through the lumber. Uh, did you know that wasps will follow you around, even after you have left the general area of the nest?? We found that out. All I could do was laugh and yell "Don't run!!" Needless to say, it was the best stash of wood on the place, and it was being very well guarded and we didn't get any of the wood. We did however get to know the tenacity of a nest of wasps. I guess I should put the disclaimer in now, that no child or wasp was injured in the attempted thievery of said wood pile. (YET) So, today's agenda consists of eradicating the wasps from the shed. PETA be damned, I want that wood, its mine and I aim to have it! They brought on this battle all on their own. Had they simply allowed us entry into the shed to collect the wood, we were happy to allow them their space, but they mounted the first attack, and I wont be bossed around by a bunch of little winged kamikaze's.
So, we gave up the idea of getting any wood for the moment from that particular shed, and concentrated on other piles that yielded very little in what I was looking for. We ended up with enough lumber to build one set of odd looking panels. One is quite obviously much shorter in length, and the other needs some help in the application of a saw in order to cut off some pieces that are noticeably longer than they should be. We utilized some T posts to pound in on either side of said panels once we got them built and stood up, and that worked well. Pounding T posts into the ground with a hammer, can really be a difficult and time consuming task, and I wish Id have had my T post driver handy, but alas, it was locked up in the shop and for some odd reason, my key wasn't working to get it opened yesterday. Gonna have to see what gives there. Its worked before, so I'm baffled. I even had Kyle try his hand with the key, but neither of us could get it to work. But I wasn't going to let a little thing like that stop the forward motion of my plan. Id already suffered one set back with the wasps, and wasn't willing to bag the whole deal, just because the work may require a little more elbow grease to accomplish the job at hand. So I handed Kyle the hammer and told him how much the girls would love seeing his well developed muscles after a day of pounding T posts with a hammer. (As a side note, the his thumb injury actually did not require hospitalization, as he had surmised it should, however, it did put him off and get him out of using the hammer for the rest of the day.)
Once we got the first, (and only so far) set of panels set up, we stood back and surveyed our handy work. Saying they looked good, would be a bit boisterous, however, they are usable and so I had Lex run the sheep through them a few times. She had been with us all day while we were hunting and building and had layed patiently on the field while we built them, and set them up. Lex had panels in our pasture in Utah and has been trialed, and knew exactly what they were for and was very excited when she saw what we were building. Her patience paid off for her, as she got to be the first to try them out. It took a bit more work on Lexy's part to show the sheep what we wanted, and once we accomplished the task, she dropped into the stock tank for a well deserved break. Poor old gal just ain't as young as she use to be, and I can see that what ever it is that is ailing her in her back legs, still requires a bit more off time to heal. Later, I got Chris out and let her have a go at putting the sheep through the panels. I'm not sure that it was Lexy's well executed moves that taught the sheep to go through the panels instead of over and around them, or Chris's abilities, but we had a lovely work session, and she, after one failed attempt at getting them all through the panels, was on her game, because they didn't argue with her one bit when she asked them to march through the panels and not around them. Her sense of accomplishment was evident, and she really enjoyed having the sense that we had a goal. It also sharpens up my view of where I need to have my dog, and allows me to see how well my dog reads her sheep. I think we are all going to enjoy having the panels once they are all assembled and placed on the pasture. Since we have very little real work for the dogs to do around here, and we all seem to harbor a need for goal oriented work, and obviously none of us are that good at visualizing invisible obstacles. So, for the moment, I will conclude that this is a good thing. Training for trialing isn't actually the purpose here, but, more so goal oriented work. Another thing that Chris and I have been working on, is inside flanks. At first, she just didn't get it, but has become pretty good at doing them on the come bye side. Last night, we tried again to get her to start doing inside flanks on the away side, and after a few confused attempts, she finally started to come past me and get the idea. I love progress, and as was evident in her happy attitude at the end of our work session, she feels the same way.