Wednesday, May 23, 2018

May Happenings

Here it is not even high summer yet, and it feels like we are squeezing every minute out of every day. Sheep chores and maintenance have taken a lot of my time when not working my "real" job.

We went to Pt. Pleasant Mother's Day trial and had a "pleasant" and rewarding experience (got a score again finally, whew...). Spot ran out well, as confident as he ever has in a trial. I loved his outrun. His approach to the sheep was good, after he went to flirt with the setout dog. He, and that problem, are getting "fixed" in June. Gah. I could have strangled him. From there we did OK, missed part of the fetch gate with some of the sheep but got our act back together and made all the drive panels. Hey, we can run a course after all! Who knew? :-) The Maltese Cross with a turn in it was very tricky; the sheep were flightier than normal, perhaps due to the high winds that were blowing all weekend. It took us two tries to get the Maltese but we got it finally. We went to the shedding ring for the single but ran out of time. Still a score. Not bad except for the diversion at the top of the outrun. Glass half full.

I ran Ryme and Spot both, in a little AHBA arena trial the day before. They both got numbers, and Spot even got nice a third prize basket. It was fun to see old friends, mainly from our Pescadero "glory days". Pescadero and the AHBA trials there, were such a great venue to gain experience, one of many that we don't have any more. I'm happy to still have the AHBA venue where I can run Ryme occasionally and just enjoy what the dogs do without the stress of open. But that's another topic. How do our dogs gain experience with shrinking venues and limited opportunities? I am on a quest to work this out or else give up Open for any subsequent dogs. It's that serious...

Speaking of subsequent dogs, my little man Cap has now had his first lesson with our trainer. That is, Cap and I had our lesson. I am the one who needs help, as always. Cap is fine. He has matured past the biting phase of a couple months ago (when I didn't work him, hoping maturity would help) and now he works really nice. I am thanking my lucky, lucky stars!!!!! What a nice pup. He is biddable and wants to please, and is keen and showing nice shapes. We are just in the very beginning puppy stages but I am very excited about this boy's future. His "grampa" liked him. I am over the moon.

Not at the lesson, but practicing, Cap tore his foot pad for the first time. My baby! Another milestone. The ground is drying out. The foxtails are appearing and we are still battling thistles. Time to get some footie toughening stuff and apply it.

And now back to see what else we can accomplish today! 

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Glamour Side of Sheepdoggin', Part I

I think this will kick off a new series of posts, entitled, "The Glamour Side of Sheepdoggin'". Here is Part One.

Thistle. Cutting it. Bagging it. String trimming it. Disposing of it. Yuck.

In general: string trimming, mowing, clipping, weeding, digging weeds. Yuck.

Nothing to do with dogs or sheep, but maintaining the property for same. Yuck.

Somehow barn cleaning is more satisfying; at least you get to throw in the sweet-smelling clean shavings. And thistle is annoying because it goes right through your gloves, as if you didn't even bother to put gloves on.

Huge kudos and props to those who have been helping with "landscape maintenance" (for lack of a better word) at the pasture.

As a value-added bonus, Where's Cap? :-)

Can you find Cap?
 Eight pairs of geese honking away in the pasture tonight, and he's oblivious.

Monday, May 7, 2018

Now That's a Recall!

Cap, still enthusiastic about his recall, after we worked sheep and then took a walk around another pasture. Ahhh, youth! :-)

Sunday was also barn cleaning day. This whole sheepdoggin' thing may be some sort of a weird fitness plan.

Saturday, May 5, 2018

13,627 Steps

We had a Very Big Day. Friends came and worked dogs. Ryme and Spot and I held sheep for the younger dogs to learn how to take sheep off of a stock handler/spotter. Ryme and Spot each broke their stay, once. Bad setout dogs! :-) Most of the time, they were good. It is fun to help others get their dogs going and to see that breakthrough when the younger dogs decide that it is really okay to go around that strange person and her dog, to lift the sheep and take them down the fetch, all properly! We discussed the conclusion in the great Vergil Holland book, the Handler's Post, about how we often lose 50% of the trained skills we have at "home", when we take our show on the road, even just to friend's to practice, let alone to a trial.

My phone says I did over 13, 627 steps today. I am not a big walker, because of my foot and leg issues, and I "save" my steps and walking for working my dogs. I have my "goal steps" on my phone and My Fitness Pal, set at only 7,000 steps, instead of the 10,000 that most everybody else has. I try to make up with other activities (like riding my exercise bike). My average normal steps are about 4,700 per day. Today was a biggie! :-) It is good to know that I "can do it" when necessary.

I also took this guy out to sheep today. Cap is just over ten months and ready to go. I have been waiting but the time is now. He is keen, fast, but still a team player at this point. I want to get a bit of a handle on him before he turns a year. Sometimes big changes happen at a year and my goal is to have at least a little bit of the structure of going to the sheep and coming off the sheep in place by that time. He stops on his feet, for now, which is acceptable.

It will be an interesting summer. My steps may top 7,000 more regularly.  We have one tired puppy (actually four tired dogs and one tired human) tonight.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Just Workin' ...

Here are some nice photos of Spot from last weekend, just working. Despite our string of failures at the spring series of trials, he does work well for me. Sigh. These are photos that Gloria took  while I put Spot through his paces, so to speak. :-)

The below photo is one I took, of Gloria and her young Ben, son of Nick (who is Spot's brother). Ben is coming on really nicely, at just fifteen months old.

The future is bright!
And this is just because...shearing...and I know the grass won't last.

Wait, what happened to our wool!?!?

Not Bad for Ten

Orange tag - 10 years old

Freshly sheared, little  "orange tag" does not look too bad for ten years old. She looks way better than last year. We have been feeding her (alfalfa pellets and grain) separately since last year's shearing when we discovered how thin she was under her wool. She doesn't have much left in the way of teeth but has a Scottish Blackface attitude all the way! I figured a pet sheep is preferable to a dead sheep, any old day.

White tag - 8 years old

As long as we're talking about it, this ewe (freshly sheared, front and center) is eight years old and doesn't look bad, either.  She is not getting supplemental feeding and there is another just like her in good shape in our dog training flock, as well.

white wether - six years old
The white Dorper-Dorset wether freshly sheared, left, is six years old. He is looking pretty good too, and there are two others like him. Our flock is getting older but they look good and healthy for dog work. We try to take good care of them. They are not chased or abused and spend most days just being sheep.

Unconcerned about shearing; when is supper? :-)

And the wool comes off, for another year...