Monday, December 29, 2008

Holiday Weekend in Pescadero

The historical little town of Pescadero, CA was the scene of our latest weekend (between Christmas and New Years) adventures in sheepdog trials. The fabulous Willowside Goose Wranglers team put on an AHBA trial that was not to be missed. Not only did they offer the ranch (HRD) course, opportunities on geese and the test classes for those who are just getting started, they made the rare opportunity available for us to run in HTD (Herding Trial Dog--the "border collie course") in the large open field!

The weather cooperated beautifully with sunny, cool days and no rain or wind. Coal was entered both days in both HRD III and HTD III, with all the big boys and girls who are either HTCH dogs or HTCH-pointed dogs. Bid was entered only in HTD III so that we could practice our skills on the big driving course.

Coal qualified in both of his ranch course runs, with a fourth place on Sunday; this is not too shabby considering the competition. We have some skills to work on for that type of work, of course, but overall he was pretty reliable since I use him for ranch chores all the time.

Coal in HRD III (photo credit L. Allen-Byrd)

For HTD we had about a 125 to 150 yard outrun (seemed longer!) and long crossdrive, and a shed in addition to the outwork, driving, and penning. I'm really glad I have been practicing our shedding, although usually I have not been working on small groups of sheep yet for this at home. Both boys, however, stepped up to the plate on their trial sheds on five head.

On Saturday Bid took High in Trial on the HTD III course! This was very exciting. His outrun was gorgeous and his shed was textbook.

Bid shedding on Saturday (photo credit L. Allen-Byrd)

On Sunday our work was a bit more ragged and he ended up in third place. Overall though this was great and a boost to the confidence level. He also helped to set sheep to help finish up the trial after our runs on Sunday. Bid is a good little worker with a ton of heart.

Coal was second to Bid in HTD III on Saturday, and amazingly won the class on Sunday. Coal was able to shed better than Bid on Sunday. Coal and I have lots to work on, including improving his outruns and driving. My timing on the handling has got to motor up the learning curve, too, as I feel I am really making judgemental errors out there, especially on our cross drives, which gets my boys in trouble.

A wonderful dinner at the historic Duarte's Tavern (do not miss the artichoke soup) and staying over at the ranch in the bunkhouse completed the experience. A good time was had by all in the company of good friends, lively conversations, and lots of folks pitching in to help run the trial. Thanks to all who helped and participated!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Friday, December 12, 2008

Stewardship of the Land and Sheepdog Trials Go Hand In Hand

Last weekend we were fortunate enough to be spectators at the new Hopland SDT at the University of California research station in Hopland, CA. What a wonderful venue and beautiful location for an outstanding sheep dog trial! I was wishing that I could have entered Bid non-compete so that we could have tried out the Open course. The course was set on rolling hills with an almost-500-yard outrun. Fresh sheep were provided by the University for every run over both days. I hope that this trial can become an annual event. We saw some great runs from dogs and handlers from northern and southern California, as well as from Oregon. Kudos to the organizers! Results are here:

While at the Hopland trial, someone in the know mentioned to me that with our budget cuts on the line here in California due to our state financial crisis, one of the programs that is likely to be eliminated is the Williamson Act. Under this act, landowners can receive property tax assistance if their land is kept in long-term agricultural or open-space use instead of being developed. It will be unfortunate if this program is cut, making way for even more development of ag land. Once that pasture is paved over, it's gone. A little bit of info is available here:

An action alert from the California Farm Bureau about the Williamson Act is available here:

The Hopland research station was so beautiful that it made me hopeful that UC will be able to retain this property and others like it throughout the state for now and into the future. After all, I believe that farmers and ranchers are the most capable stewards of the land because they know it best.

Monday, December 1, 2008

New Working Photos

Here are some new working photos of Bid and Coal, that I took on Thanksgiving.