Friday, January 16, 2009

Day One of the Jack Knox Clinic

Well, I have to say, we definitely could have picked a better week to have the clinic than on the 3 coldest recorded days since the year 2000. When I went out this morning to take care of the sheep and horses and run dogs it was sixteen degrees. There was 2 inches of ice on all the stock tanks, and the pond and spill way were frozen. I had to take a sledge hammer to them, and break up a path for water to come thru the spill way for the horses. All of which took more time than I had allotted myself to get things done before I had to leave by 7am. Turns out I got outta there by 7:30 so I didn't do to bad, and even though I wanted to be there early, at least I was on time. When I got there, everyone was inside, having breakfast and listening to Jack tell stories, which from what I can tell, he has many. I found my way to the coffee pot, and got a cup of Joe and sat down to warm up. A few new faces and some from last year, it was good to see that we had enough folks to warrant putting on the clinic. Cold or not, I was looking forward to it.
Alas, eventually we did have to go outside, and brave the cold. By 9:30 it was a balmy 19 degrees, practically a heat wave eh! Everyone was so bundled up I was hard pressed to recognise anyone, and I ended up identifying everyone I knew by their dogs, and those I didn't, I asked. We started out in the round pen, and got to see some nice young dogs learning that the right can be easy and the wrong can be hard. Everyone seemed to be warm enough, but my and everyone Else's biggest complaint seemed to be that our faces were cold. We all looked like little cherubs with our rosy wind burned faces all frozen in smiles. But! At least we were all smiling which means even with the cold, you just couldn't break the good natured camaraderie of sheepdog folks out for a day of learning and working dogs. From the round pen, we went to the big field to work. This can be just as exciting as the round pen sometimes, given the draw for the sheep is either out into the woods, or all the way back up to the corner, which is a good piece away. I know, I had to walk it. The big field is where we worked Bear, but he doesn't have that big of an outrun yet, so we walked down to get the sheep and bring them back to where Jack and everyone else was. Bear was very impressive, and calmly got them out of the corner when I sent him and brought them up without running them over top of me. I was kinda taking a chance, and trusting him, and instead of having him fetch them back with me walking backwards and watching him and telling him what to do, I just turned my back to him and the sheep and didn't say a word,looking back briefly now and then while I confidently walked all the way back across the field to where everyone else was, trusting that he knew how much pressure to put on and to release to keep them just walking calmly behind me. He did a beautiful job, and got kudos from Jack for such lovely work. I asked Jack if we should work on outruns and a little driving, and he agreed but wanted to widen his flanks out just a tad too. Bear was a bit hesitant to work for Jack, and because of it seemed to me that he wasn't as on his game as he usually is, but he did a good job and didn't make any or get in any trouble. Jack was very complimentary, and I was very proud of Bear. Jack asked where I got him, and when I told him some one gave him to me, he grinned and told me I got one heck of a deal and one heck of a dog. He was right. I couldn't have asked for a nicer dog in Bear. Though I still wish he would have allowed me to change his name. I'm still not overly fond at all of calling him Bear. After we all were finished on the field, and I might add, we were all treated to some very nice handling and inspiring dog work being done out there, we all trudged our frozen butts back up the hill to the house to retire for lunch. Laura had made a huge pot of chili, and some black bean soup, with sour dough bread. Perfect fodder for such a cold day. Kelly had made some brownies the likes that I have never been treated to. They were undoubtedly the most delicious brownies Id ever tasted. Which is a big compliment, as I consider myself a connoisseur of anything chocolate. After we all had put a pretty good sized dent in the fixin's and there wasn't much left but the leavin's, we were all treated to a few more stories from Jack, and a little lite conversation, it was all good, cause it was all dog! Begrudgingly, we eventually had to go back outside and brave the Arctic weather and all started to suited back up. I was amused, watching the layers get thicker and thicker, making normal size people look like a thick burger from Hardees. Nothing showing underneath it all but amused and smiling little faces. We started after lunch on the big field, and the wind and cold were really starting to make life miserable, but we were all brave little soldiers and cowboyed up. I didn't even whine half as much as I thought I would, course every time I opened my mouth, I was afeared that my saliva would immediately freeze, and then Id be stuck like that the rest of the day. When it was Bear's turn up, no sooner than I had walked out on the field and sent my dog, my cell phone started ringing. I hit the silence button figuring who ever it was, would do the intelligent thing, and leave a message. Little did I know the person making the calls, over and over again, wasn't going to stop till I answered. Some peoples children can be sooo full of drama just cause ya don't answer the phone. I guess It never occurred to him (my.....for lack of a cleaner nicer title at the moment, husband) that I just might be busy, and to just leave a damn message! Anyway, needless to say, it was very disturbing, and totally ruined any concentration I was trying to muster, ( Id hit the silent button, he'd call back. 9 times in 5 minuets, I counted!) and so our work wasn't as nice as Id have liked for it to be. I did try to just shut it off, but I had my gloves on, and my fingers weren't working on those tiny buttons. Not Bear's fault, not my fault, but you can rest assured, when he gets home tonight I will be letting him know how much I appreciate him being the cause of screwing up the lesson for all of us. I'm going to put a stop to that frantic school kid behavior once and for all. Can you tell its not the first time he has done something so asinine?! Just leave a message! If I'm dead, I'm sure some one will call you and let you know! Jeez!
OK. End of stupid husband rant.
Anyway, it was getting colder and later, and needless to say, thanks to my ...*#!* DH, my mood had just been changed for the worse, and I still had dogs and chores at home to get taken care of before it got dark, and an hour and a half drive ahead of me and so I thanked Jack, and apologized to him for the cell phone incident, and said my early good byes, promising to see everyone in the morning. I just did get home before dark thirty, and was glad Id left earlier than I had planned. The waters were all frozen back over and I had to roust Kyle up and have him employ his baseball bat to bust up the ice, which he found to be a very satisfying and enjoyable job. Bruin had a blast playing with the 2 inch thick ice chunks we'd dispersed from the water tanks, and we had fun while doling out grain, watching him trying to pick them up, and seeing as he couldn't, he would just push them with his nose, and chase them around the field. Kinda like a sheep doo covered hockey puck.
Anyway, the first day was a good day all in all, with good friends, new friends, good dogs and dog work, and I look forward to tomorrow. Weather man says it will be a tad warmer than today, so that is something to look forward to. If we are lucky, we may hit freezing, although I think I remember the weather last night predicted a high of only 26 degrees. Ive been home now for 3 1/2 hours now, and I'm just getting good and thawed out. Tomorrows work should be more interesting, as now Jack has seen Bear work twice, and was had time to draw his conclusions and form his ideas, so I cant wait to see what he has planned for us. If all goes as planned, which, does that ever really happen except for in the movies?? I'll try to update tomorrows....Id love to be able to say,"Fun in the sun, day" but instead will have to substitute it with "Freezing our fool arses off" cause we're crazy sheepdog people, who cant think of a better way, rain or shine, cold, or even 10 degrees below freezing to spend a day. Ah hell, its all good!


Loretta Mueller said...

I am sorry the weather wasn't the best :( But I am sure you learned a lot from Jack!

I really like their method and he and Kathy have helped me out so much with my dogs!

I hope today is better as far as weather!

Anonymous said...

This is Sunday, what happened to Saturday...did you go? Such dedication, to freeze your butt off not to mention that poor dog's feet too. Bet Bear didn't have any warm clothes on, and don't tell me he wasn't cold sitting around out there waiting his turn. Why doesn't this Jack fellow set his clinics in the warmth of spring? AND what was so damned important that the cell phone had to keep ringing? Death in the family, house on fire????

Darci said...

The "poor dog" was happily and comfortably sequestered in the cab of my truck with a warm blanket and a bowl of water and a chew bone until it was his turn to work, once he saw sheep, weather didnt matter to him. This fella Jack goes around the country all year long giving clinics, and we try to keep a yearly time slot held for each year. Honestly,January around here working dogs normally isnt bad at all, the weather is great for sheep and dogs,if it were to warm we'd kill them with all the running. Cool weather is the best weather to train in for sheep and dogs.
As far as the cell, I can gaurentee you it didnt ring sat or sun with his number on it. No house on fire, just an idiot with a cell phone and a burning desire to piss off his wife. Im begining to think he has no sense of self preservation.

Unknown said...

If you want to recreate those yummy brownies, just get thee to a store and buy a box of Ghiardelli brownie mix. I used to make brownies from scratch, and if I do say so, they were pretty darn good, but they can't top those brownies in a box (and it seems to me that something else I bought over the weekend had a coupon for more of those brownies, so I see some in the future as well). Funny how we had tons of food and desserts, but had leftovers only in the main dishes and not the desserts. I guess that means we were all busy padding ourselves for the cold. lol!

Darci's mom,
People who have been having Jack out for a really long time have dates reserved in advance (as do we). Because we came to "the game" later, there were fewer "good" dates to choose from, and since I took this clinic over from someone else in NC, the dates were pretty much already set for us. But as Darci said, it's much easier on the sheep (especially the wool sheep) and the dogs when the weather is cooler. Granted, it would have been nice if it hadn't bene that cold, but I wouldn't have traded the cold for the torrential rains (and warmer temps we'd had the week or two before that, so it's all relative I guess!


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