Tuesday, April 15, 2014


Well, I'm only a few posts behind. Our sheep got sheared a few days ago and it's always kind of a festival-like atmosphere on shearing day. I guess we are channeling the days gone by when neighbors helped each other gather and shear, and then had a meal together following the work. These pictures show the same Scottish Blackface ewe - before and after she got sheared.


Her poor lamb screamed almost all the rest of the day, looking for her mom, who she did not recognize without all that wool. Even though mom was standing right next to her, the lamb continued to throw a fit. I guess appearances are everything, even to a sheep!

Our shearer is great and we are so lucky and grateful to have him to do our crew each year.

Our friend George was there and shot some video of the shearing this year. Here is a video link to some of the "Shearing 101" information that was shared that day:

Shearing 101

It is a nice feeling to have shearing completed for springtime. The sheep obviously feel much better!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

McCormack Ranch

Wow, I was lucky enough to volunteer as a clerk last weekend at the McCormack Ranch sheepdog trial. I went last year and spectated for a day and wanted to go back this year to take in some more of the gorgeous ranch. I was asked to clerk for a day and said yes! The McCormack Ranch is such a fantastic site for a sheepdog trial, and then you add in beautiful, healthy, and challenging sheep from the ranch, and great judging and a hard-working crew...it makes for an all-around great trial.

I didn't take any pictures because I was clerking...but others have posted photos on Facebook so most folks have gotten to see at least a glimpse of the endless rolling green hills. I saw some really great dog and handler work.  I was actually surprised at how much grass there was, and how tall it was. The last couple weeks have brought us some bonus rains and those combined with recent warm sunny days must have really brought on the growth in the grass.

It was a long day but a great time! There were 13 Nursery dogs to run on top of the Open class so that was a bit of a haul but we got it done...the last run of the day, was the best nursery run and the winner of the class, so that made it all worthwhile. Congratulations to the winners!

Here is a field of California poppies near one of the fields where we work sheep...and Ryme enjoying some of our own green grass, lately.

Friday, April 4, 2014

R & R

A New Year's resolution for 2014 was to try to take more photos. I've been trying to snap a shot here and there -- even just with my phone if that's all I have with me --  thinking I would use it later in my blog. I think the blog entries are more interesting if they have a photo or two to go with them. Agreed? :) 

I've been saving the photos in a folder by month on my computer. Here it is already April and I have two photos from March random snaps that I have not used, and they are both of Ryme. So it is clearly time for a quick Ryme update.

Ryme is a rather big guy!

Let's get back to the sheep, Mom!

Neither photo shows his face but I am pretty sure that is because he was looking away from me towards sheep! We were practicing on some sheep at distance and I'd taken a break to enjoy my surroundings.

Ryme got neutered on Valentine's Day (Poor guy) and he has sailed through that procedure without incident. So, we are not quite two months' into it... and I think there is clearly improvement in his overall outlook. He seems a little bit calmer, is working better, and is tolerating Spot a bit more. In the last week or two I have even ventured to let all four dogs run in the pasture together and there have been no incidents. I am still keeping them separated at home or in close quarters; I don't want to risk it that Ryme might attack Spot again. The success of this procedure and the other input that I have been getting from others makes me think that I may also neuter Spot this year sometime. I am not sure yet, but that may happen.

Ryme ran pretty well at the RESDA trial last weekend. There is still plenty to work on with his confidence building and repeating in a trial performance what he can do at home to a greater percentage. But I think it is all pretty positive at this point in time. Neutering has done nothing to quiet Ryme's vocal nature, however! It would have been too much to expect. :)

Ryme is still my go-to dog for chores, sorting sheep, moving sheep from point A to point B. Best ranch dog ever. I've started a little bit of ranch-style shedding with him lately as well when the moment presents itself.  So that's the Ryme update: still a very unusual dog but I'm trying to give him a niche, and work to do.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

No April Foolin'...

Our March product review from Chewy is a little late but I guess I will just chalk it up to being April Fool's Day. :)

The boys got to try out the Nutrisource Lamb Treats which are a soft and moist chewy treat. It took me a while to put two and two together but what they reminded me of the most was when I used to buy Solid Gold Tiny Tots jerky treats for agility training. I think the price on the Nutrisource treats is much lower than Solid Gold, too.

The Nutrisource Lamb treats are in the shape of little dog bones so they are small and would be very convenient for obedience, agility, tracking, and that type of training...or clicker training of any kind. They could easily be broken in half or maybe even thirds for those little teeny rewards when you are clicker training.

I don't do much of that type of training any more but I have to say that the boys were all on board with these treats. They are pretty aromatic and not one of the boys turned these treats down on the first try.  They seem to be very palatable and the other use I can think of, for them, would be to entice a dog to eat who has been sick or injured and doesn't have much of an appetite, but needs to eat. These treats should bring on an appetite, that's for sure! :)

We do use Nutrisource dog food on a regular basis, so I do like their products. It is a family owned company who still manufactures their own products (i.e., not outsourced to Diamond etc.) as KLN Foods.  I have been using their grain-free dry dog foods as well as their chicken and rice and lamb and rice foods, off and on, for the past year or so. I am very happy with their products although I do mix their foods with the Fromm kibble that I buy, as well.

Thank you Chewy for sending the boys another great product to try! :)

Sunday, March 30, 2014

RESDA Spring Trial 2014

The RESDA Spring Trial - first trial of the season for that club - is in the books now and it was a really nice day overall.

Heavy overnight rains (much welcome moisture, don't get me wrong!) held off during the next day so that we could enjoy the trial without getting drenched. The field was in lovely shape and the sheep looked great.

A large entry of open dogs (27) and pronovice dogs (7) made for a long day. But it was well worth it and the time seemed to fly by. There was a delicious barbecue/potluck lunch made nicer by all the fixings and prep that went into it. The course was the traditional RESDA fetch course which with the big range ewes made for an interesting challenge. Many hands and helpers are needed to run a trial smoothly, and it seemed that most everyone stepped up and took a job where needed to make it all go.

I ran both my Coal and Ryme in the Open class. My main goal with Coal was to get him stopped on the fetch and do a decent fetch; after our Zamora experience that is clearly the area where we need to spend some time. I knew we'd be running on range ewes at Johnson's, so it was a prime opportunity to work with him on the type of sheep that really get his eyes twinkly! :) The outrun was fairly short, so getting him stopped on the fetch and rating that fetch was not too hard. But it still felt good to be able to put those brakes on, if I needed them. Coal has a bit too much eye for range ewes and one of our group of three did not like that very much. I tried to keep him from getting up into their eye, yet contain them from running off to the very heavy draw to the side. It was a difficult challenge. We got to the chute portion of the course and timed out. I was happy with my good lad! He tried hard and he knew it. A very good practice session! :)

Ryme has not run in very many trials successfully. In fact we have RTed more often than not and I had stopped even attempting to trial him for a long time. This winter he got neutered and he is now five years old. I have been working very hard with him in training to get him to be more deliberate and direct in his approach to the sheep. All these factors, were what I was going to test at this trial. I was a little nervous but he did not let me down. They say that in a trial you may have 50% or so of what you have, at home in your training. I would say that is about true; Ryme  was not opening his flanks cleanly nor stopping nicely as we have been training. But overall he kept his head about him, obeyed, and was listening. He tried hard as well so I was very happy with him. We made it to the pen but did not pen so time ran out. His flanks were not like they should be and one ewe was not happy with him. While we penned two ewes a couple of times, the third did not want to go in. If it were not a trial situation I would have sorted that out with Ryme but as it was a trial, I couldn't. Still overall I think it was a great mileage experience for Ryme. We so rarely get to work on that type of sheep, so I couldn't pass up the opportunity. Very happy with another good lad! :)

Thanks once again to the Johnson family for opening their ranch to the club and letting us rent their sheep for the trial. It is not easy to find trial venues these days, and especially venues such as this that are beautiful and comfortable for all.

Friday, March 28, 2014

So(jo) Many Choices

After we reviewed the Sojos treats for Chewy, we got an email directly from Sojos asking us to review their dog food choices. They very generously sent us an ample supply of samples and also one complete regular size bag of their turkey complete grain-free (which we are still working on). The boys seem to like this one, and the only complaint that I have about it (well, two complaints I guess) is that you sort of have to make it up ahead of time, which requires planning. I am accustomed to Honest Kitchen, which I have used for years, and can be made up with just about ten minutes' notice. For the Sojos to get fully hydrated, you need more time than that. The only other complaint about the Sojos is that it does not seem to be very thoroughly mixed in the bag. So if you scoop some out, that scoop may have mostly one kind of bits in it (such as the sweet pototo/vegetable) but not all the bits (such as the meat bits). That can be remedied by shaking the bag up a little, before you open it. But that's another step I am not accustomed to taking. All in all it seems to be a really good food, and comparable in price to HK. The boys certainly liked it and I thought it smelled like Stove-Top Stuffing, after I poured the warm water on. Hummm...but no, I did not taste-test it myself! ha! :)

Sojos turkey complete grain-free

In our sample box there was were some samples of the beef complete grain-free, which is what I opened first. The boys really liked this one and I thought it was more mixed than the turkey (but that may have just been the effect of the small sample bag). I think if I were to buy more Sojos, that this beef complete formula is what I would purchase first.

Sojos beef complete grain free

Below is the original Sojos, which did not contain meat. For this one, you add your own choice of meat, and mix/re-hydrate. The original formula has quite a bit of grain and the grains are whole and not chopped up. So while this one smelled good when it was mixed (I mixed it with some cooked ground turkey for the boys) and the boys ate it right up, I am fairly certain I would not buy this product due to the grains and the need to add your own meat.  I know that HK has its own product which is very similar to this one and because of these same reasons, I have never bought it.

We have a couple of more kinds to try, one that you add meat to, and I am not sure what else. Stay tuned! Sojos was very generous with their samples! They also sent a teeny tiny bag of even teenier, tinier little dog biscuits which were incredibly cute. When I handed one to each of the boys, however, they looked at me like, "where's the rest?" I think they are too small for my dogs but would be great for tiny dogs who can get fat just looking at a bigger biscuit. More Sojos to come! I would like to say thank you to that company for reaching out to us to let us try their products. It is always interesting and these all seem to be great products.

Sojos original - you add the meat    

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Shepherding the Sheep at Zamora

On the first day of the Zamora trial (Friday afternoon after the last run of the day was completed) they had a little ceremony to honor the memory of Bill Slaven. Many of the handlers gathered at the trial field and there was a bag piper playing the pipes. Many of the family members were there. They had a couple of enlarged color photos of Bill Slaven, taken there on the ranch. Dusk was starting to settle. Handlers were relaxing, and many had a cold drink in hand. Several of us had our dogs with us and I had Spot there with me on a leash because I’d been giving him a walk after Coal’s run. Spot had never seen or heard a bag piper before and it was a new experience for him, but he didn’t overly react to it. 

Dr. Madigan from UC Davis spoke (the same veterinarian who spoke at the funeral) about Bill Slaven. It was a similar speech only shorter and a bit lighter, with remembrances of Bill Slaven and his family, mostly based in the experiences during and following the devastating Zamora fire in 2006. 

It was a fairly brief gathering, but very nice. I think it provided some closure to those folks who were unable to attend the funeral. The family had made up little gift bags for each of the handlers, which was very thoughtful.

It  was strange though, that during the ceremony, here came the trial sheep out from their holding area, just walking across the field (sort of backwards on  the cross drive line). But no one was out there shepherding them, and it seemed like no one had let them out because literally everyone there was gathered ‘round to hear Dr. Madigan. The sheep were just walking and grazing; there was no loose dog out there with them or anything. It was quite a backdrop for Dr. Madigan’s talk. A friend standing by me nudged me with her elbow…whispering, “who do you think is behind those sheep?” It was very fitting. I have to say it was strange being there all day at the trial with no Bill. I kept expecting him to appear on his quad bike, on the first day. The second day was a bit easier. But…who was shepherding those sheep? It is not hard to imagine who.