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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Sunday, November 2, 2008


Well, playing in the woods, we decided wasnt really a smart option, as it is hunting season, and our place abuts up to several others properties, and so we high tailed it back to the pond. Bear got there first, he's now well versed in where the pond is and has this Im so cool look like "Hey! What took ya so long!"

Chris, who had weaseled out of her Time Out, because.....

Really now. Who could resist this face?

Besides, she offered to find Bear a new stick.

And,teach Hank how to dive for frogs.

To which Hank replied...Does she really think Im going to do that?

Saturday, November 1, 2008

And so it begins....

So we decided to head for the pond today. Chris, Cain and Andy know the way. Seeing as this was Bear's first trip to the pond, he kinda got mixed up as to which way to go.
Hey, the pond is the other way!
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Once he found his way however, it didnt take him long to figure out why we were there. Look! Its a bird, its a plane, NO! Its Otter Dog! I guess this answered my question if he liked to swim.

Cris on the other hand, er paw, had better things to do besides swim. She remembered the frogs the last time she was there and was looking for more.

Her dire need to find a frog was bordering on the obsessive. So much so that it was starting to scare me.

And with good reason.
OK Lady, Give me the snorkle and no one gets hurt.

Meanwhile,Bear has been looking for the perfect stick, one of which he found and decided to parade around with it while....

Waiting for Chris to be allowed off from her "Time Out"
Damned obsessive frog hunting dog! Well, I had to do some thing to make her stop!

Hank said he saw something out in the woods....

But it was only Andy.

And Cain

And Chris! Who seems to have not only snuck her way out of her time out, but has also stolen Bear's stick too!

So, while Andy and Bear ran off to find Bear another stick....

Well, I guess you'll have to check back and see....

Head for the Hills!

Oh boy, are you guys ever in for it! Do people still say that nowadays? I know that's what my brothers and I use to say to each other when we were kids when one or the other of us were gonna be in hot water with the parents. It was like a bad omen to hear it, coming off the lips of the one who "wasn't" going to be in trouble, usually followed by a sly and all knowing grin. Scary words those were. Not so scary today though, as "in for it" holds a slightly different meaning. My meaning today is that I just picked up batteries for my camera. BUT! Not just any old batteries, Rechargeable Batteries!! It took me awhile to find my charger, seems if you lay some thing down for more than a month around here, it ends up in the scary dark abyss that is my sons room. His excuse is, "Well, it was laying around for over a month and no one was using it!" So, borrow it, and put it back! Asking would have been a thoughtful gesture as well. It scares me when things go into Kyle's room. Some things never make it back out. And those things that do, are not always in one piece anymore, IF, and that's a big IF he can find them in a timely manner at all before I loose my temper and go in there and start cleaning. I have what is called a gobble sack. All my children know what the gobble sack is, and the smart ones fear the gobble sack. Things go into the gobble sack never to be seen again. Quite like Kyle's room. So he should understand the theory. What I really find amusing, is that my daughter who now has 3 children of her own has adopted the gobble sack idea with her children, and I just find that humorous, as she had always said she wouldn't be like me when it came to raising HER kids. Ha! I guess some things really did make a lasting impression. Anyway, I digress, I could write chapters about the day to day life with a 13 year old boy, especially this one! Not to mention the raising of the other two who now are respectfully 28 and 25 yrs, and raising kids of their own, and doing it, not unlike like they were raised. Funny how things go full circle.
But, to get back on topic. I had been using batteries that Bobby was getting from his work, and he was getting a little annoyed that I kept ransacking his stash, (kinda make ya wonder where Kyle got that not asking before borrowing thing?) And so he found a new hiding place for his sacred stash of batteries which forced me to go buy my own. Ive learned from experience, that the cheap batteries that I was....stealing, OK, I admit it, it was stealing, but hey! We are married! Whats his is mine right!? Anyway, those cheepo batteries werent worth a crapo, and wouldn't hardly last through 2 photo sessions before they died on me. Leaving me with Oh so many missed Kodak moments. So while shopping for Halloween candy yesterday, I saw this big glowing display of batteries in the Super WalMart that immediatly drew me to it like a moth to a flame. My eyes, (and hands) fell on the really good rechargeable ones, and I couldn't get them in my cart fast enough! Why hadn't I thought of this before? Was I getting to much pleasure from sneaking Bobby's batteries? I think that may have been the case. I did, mind you, put them back when I was done with them, albeit, used up and dead, but I guess that little courtesy didn't matter much to him. The old grump.
So now, I have these new rechargeable batteries, and I put them in my camera. All excited to get to taking pictures, and guess what??!! The damn things don't work! Ive got Diva's and dogs lined up eagerly awaiting their photo shoots, and dead batteries! Hence, having to venture into my sons room to find my charger. Just opening his bedroom door, and peeking in was giving me pause to think about picking the lock where the grumpy selfish husband was keeping his new stash of batteries hid. But, I persevered, and dove in and at last we found the charger. Then of course, we had to find the charger cord, which of course you know wouldst not be my good fortune to be WITH! the charger. Eventually, we found that too. It was no easy task. It was in a drawer, mixed in with all, and I do mean ALL the Nintendo, PSP, X Box, cords, chargers and anything else slightly resembling a cord and frustratingly intertwined into a mass of what resembled a pile of mating black snakes! (insert sarcasm here,) Oh goodie.
So guess who got to untangle all the cords for 30 minutes until my poor charger cord was released from the black tangled mass. No, you think me? NOT! It probably would have been easier to do it myself, but I was to busy with the gobble sack!
So, to make a long story short, the batteries are now charging, and Boy are you guys in for it! Cause I'm going to be shooting shot after shot of anything and everything I find even remotely picturesque, and posting it here for your viewing pleasure. Scary isn't it?