Sunday, October 5, 2008

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.

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