Sunday, February 17, 2019


Celebrating today! I am so happy!

Cap and some of the sheep whose feet got trimmed

 We were able to finish trimming feet on the sheep at the coop. I thought it would take three sessions but we got it finished in two sessions. A whole future weekend day is now freed up...I am so happy! Some of the sheep needed it more than others; some hardly needed anything or could get away without any attention...while others required a lot of work on their feet. You can't tell until you get them in position to trim.

We have been working on modifying the set of pens and alleyway to better resemble the "Bud box" system...we are not there yet but it is getting better. And folks are learning how to better handle the sheep through the system. I am sure this is part of the reason we were able to finish so much faster this time around.  Big thank yous to Foothill Agrarian for help on this with videos and advice.

Also...regarding confidence... I've not had a dog yet (in my small number of dogs) who is so confident to move sheep that they don't need any help, ever. Maybe someday I will have "that dog". Meanwhile I work to build confidence. It is in the back of my mind every time I work dogs. If it goes out of my mind I will be sorry (and have been when I let emotion get in my way). I've had several lessons that were solely focused on building and maintaining confidence in my dogs and I go back to those principles time after time.

The sun is out...celebrating! :-)

Friday, February 15, 2019

Atmospheric River...Enough Already!

This week, and the past month, have been crazy weather...every five minutes it changes, it seems, and most of the minutes have involved heavy rain storms, flooding, high winds, relentless rain, and so forth. Today it was capped by hail! What is next? Locusts ?? Wait, don't answer that!! :-) This is semi-coastal, wine country, Northern California, the peaceful Mediterranean Climate...we are supposed to get Pineapple Expresses, but not relentless cold rain, and not hail, and not snow... I don't have any snow pictures but snow was *not* very far away! Yikes!  I'm glad to have moisture... I do not want the "D" word (drought) but enough already... a moderate amount at a time and preferably not all at once... would be nice, okay? :-)

Ryme loves water...which is a darn good thing!

Jerry the llama finds nice green stuff near and in the water...

Ryme enjoying the water.. no we are not growing rice!

It is a challenge to find ways to work dogs around all the water...Olive on a drive

Olive again on a cross drive

Part of the wetland waterway system in action...winter!

Standing water in sheep areas... and a rainbow!

Hail on my pickup...luckily not large enough to cause damage...

Watch your step there, Ryme

"Snow" at the end of the downspout?

Wait! This is Wine Country!

The local "Valentines Day" trials have been postponed due to weather again...and again...there is one more kick at that can and if the Atmospheric River is turned into a flood then it is cancelled. I'm just hoping that the "biggie" trials in March will be unaffected...otherwise it does spark memories of the year the big oak trees fell down in the driveway and onto Calistoga Road at the Sonoma Wine Country trial...crossing fingers that does NOT happen this year!!

The dogs (and I!) are stir crazy...hoping we get a break for at least a few days so we can work on our sheepdog home work.We have things to work on, and it's Dream Big!

Monday, February 11, 2019

Spot and Cap run 2-10-2019

This silly video is intended to make you (and me) smile on a is Cap's first run with the quad and Spot is running steadily along side. The look on Cap's face as he tries to catch up with me, (I am sitting on the back of the side-by-side) is priceless! :-)

It's also to remind me of my happy place!

Cap and I had a lesson over the weekend...we worked on his outruns. I had trouble getting the situation set up by myself (sheep kept following me and would not stay put) but finally when sheep were held for us by a spotter and dog, it all came together. On the bye side, Cap is tighter than on the away side. On both sides, he is a bit tighter than you want and he does not (yet) go deep enough. We are taking a gradual approach. The more I work him, the better he gets.

On the bye side I am doing a little bit more influence on him, i.e. walking out ahead of him, sometimes stopping him and bending him out, etc. On the away side I don't have to do as much, I might walk out but not stop him and bend out unless he needs it. I think others are finally seeing what I have seen all along in Cap...his approach to the sheep is both businesslike and intense.

Spot got to run out along with the quad which is good exercise for him, but we did not have a lesson. We are on a budget. Two lessons is more than I can handle, right now.

Once back home, I worked Spot and Cap on their respective plans. I put sheep on hay to work on Cap's outrun, since I was by myself and did not have a spotter to hold the sheep. He is doing really big boy stuff!  It started raining the instant I got sheep sorted to work tonight, and it kept up raining until I was finished working Spot. What gives? There wasn't even rain in the forecast. I worked anyway even in the rain, slogging around in the mud. I only have so much time to work dogs and during the rain is when that time slot fell. Oh well! Super happy with Cap and what he is doing.

Mudder Collie

For Spot I am following my plan to increase his physical and mental stamina for a good and happy shed. This time he pushed sheep out to the hay and we did one easy outrun. Then I did two sheds, which were both happy and OK. I will continue with this plan; sometimes just going out and shedding right away, and other times doing a few things first (an outrun, some driving, etc. more or less) and then a shed. I want to figure out how to keep his head cooler so that the shed will seem easy to him by the time we get to it on the course even though it is always near the end.

I'm so glad to have Ryme back in the working crew as he got to set the stage for Cap and Spot. He loves to work and is the "sheep cop" who will correct any reluctant ovines who think late afternoon is the time to "go home" and not work with dogs. Uh-uh. Ryme says you are going out to the field, without any nonsense.

We have had so much cold rain. I am not complaining about moisture but I am getting worried about some of the sheep in this weather. They are our responsibility and are dependent on us for their care.

Friday, February 8, 2019

Coal Update 2-8-2019

Coal's surgery and recuperation are now in the books. Whew. :-)

We went to his veterinarian this afternoon to have the little cosmetic "Rocky Balboa" suture removed from under his eye. She also thought his neuter incision looked very good. It is all healed up.

As it turns out, the pathology report showed that there was a tumor in each testicle, not just the enlarged one that prompted this whole ordeal. And each one was a different type of tumor. Who knew? They were both removed in the neuter surgery and the biopsy report stated that the surgery should take care of the problem. Neither tumor is known to cause further trouble in the rest of the body. Great news!

Poor guy. Coal has been all his life, Mr. Confident and Independent, and Nothing Bothers Him. But today while we waited in the foyer at the vet's office, he climbed halfway up in my lap, not once but twice. He has never done that before. Poor dude. He was a bit worried. He would not take a treat from the vet until we were all done. That is not like him but nothing major happened today for him. No more removed parts!!

I'm super happy to have my Coal back...I wish he were the young Coal but since that's not possible I will take the happy 12-year-old Coal. He seems to feel much better than prior to the operation so apparently the enlarged testicle situation was bothering him, with distention or something.

What I also noticed during his surgical recuperation was that he was much more active and sprightly while taking the pain meds that were sent home with him following surgery. I didn't really know before this happened, that he was in ongoing pain, but now I know. I started him on Duralactin (supplement) that the vet recommended, to give that a try. We got some more carprofen for "as needed use" today. If we need something more, the vet will work with us.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Cap Update

This is a little video of Cap's gather on the bye side (which is his tight side).

I'm super happy with how Cap is working. He is still tight on the side of his outrun, especially on the come bye side. The away side (not videoed) is much more open and flowing. And some of the time on both sides, he opens way up, goes deep and wide, as well. I am staying patient as this issue seems to be sorting itself out with continued work and distance (as I have been assured). I am keeping the faith. :-)

Cap is ready for little chores. Of course he does not shed, yet, but if I am creative I can do just about anything I need to do with him. The other day I found a ewe who needed to be marked and treated, as she had apparently cut (superficially) the skin below her jaw on one side. I am guessing she stuck her head through the fence to graze on something "greener" than what was on her side and then startled and cut her face on some fencing somehow... anyway I was out with Cap when I saw the issue, and just walked back "home" with the sheep and Cap pushing them behind me, quite reliably. We put them into the round pen where I could mark her... I went and got Ryme just in case, and the two of them held the sheep to me so that I could paint-mark the ewe and try to spray her cut with blu-kote. I ended up getting more blue spray on me than on the ewe but the dogs did a great job of holding sheep to me. Cap is one I can turn my back on and he will not take cheap shots or get in trouble. And he will defend himself if the sheep get nasty to him. I figured that Cap might learn from Ryme in this situation and I believe he did.  The two dogs worked together well. It's really nice to have another dog who can do chores.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Spot Shedding Plan...In the Works

Here is a little video of shedding practice with Spot tonight. He has been a little reluctant to come through lately, which I attributed to some lack of confidence. In the past he has mostly been a good shedder. Sometimes he doesn't like to come through, whether it is too much feel, too much eye, or just that he is worried or anxious. It has happened in the past when a sheep has gotten away with beating up on him.

I am trying to work out a new plan for strengthening his shedding skills for trials. The shed always comes near the end of the run, if not the very end. By then the dog has run the whole course. He may be tired or running out of "gas". We need a good, clean, quick shed in order to get a good score, and go on to the pen if there is one, or just to finish before the clock runs out. And showing good stockmanship too, all at the same time. pressure whatsoever!

In this video I took Spot out only to shed. I didn't use him to set the stage for this exercise. That is the advantage of having two more dogs who want to work. Believe it or not, it was young Cap who set up this situation. At evening chores, the sheep are very slow and just want to go in for the night. I have other plans, including some dog work on them. They are very piggish and slow... but might be good, so I thought, for shedding. Cap helped me to set the stage. I went back to the truck and got Spot, who was fresh and ready to go. We walked into the field and worked on shedding.

Now my goal is to somehow build up the time that he can work before shedding, and still complete a good, clean shed, without getting too anxious. Also, he has to flank cleanly or we can't shed at all. In this video he is flanking very cleanly. As time went on we did four or five more cuts on this group and it started to deteriorate. His flanks must be clean or we can't shed. I will chunk all this down and come up with a plan that we can practice on. Like any muscle, or skill, it will need to be built up in small stages.

Today's theme, Wednesday, was Be Happy. I tried my best!

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Celebrating Today

It's not often that one really nice thing happens in a day, but two really nice things, well that is downright unusual! But since Tuesday's theme is "be in the moment" I am taking it in stride that there are two nice things to celebrate, today.  Trying to stay in the moment and enjoy both, for today.

First, I have been following the USBCHA results page to see if Spot really did place at the last Pt. Pleasant trial, and he did! Spot was sixth! This meant that Spot received his very first HA points. That is a milestone for him that has been a long time coming. And that is with missing a drive panel (my mistake). I was very happy to see this posted today.

And second, Coal's veterinarian phoned with his biopsy results today which were good, positive results. The castration surgery should have taken care of all of the issues. There was actually a tumor in each testicle. And each testicle had a different type of tumor. It's a good thing this was caught and taken care of. I told the vet how much more lively and happy that Coal has been after his operation. Even the next day, he was woo-hooing all over the place, as much as a 12-year old dog can be. I don't think it was just the pain drugs (although that may have had something to do with it). He continues to be happy and wants to play even though he has taken all the pain drugs and has been off of them for a few days. The tumors must have been bothering him in some way and now they are gone. I was super happy to get this news today. A big weight is lifted. :-)