Friday, February 26, 2010

Sonoma Wine Country Sheepdog Trial 2010

Okay, I promise no more posts complaining about too much heavy rain. Never mind that my office windows looked like they would almost blow in this afternoon. By quitting time it was nice enough to take the dogs for a walk. So on to better things!

The fabulous Sonoma Wine Country Sheepdog Trial is the next event on our calendar. If you are anywhere near Santa Rosa on March 19-21, it is a must-attend event. You can buy raffle tickets on this beautiful border collie quilt!  It is created by master quilter, Judy Mathieson and the raffle benefits FFA. What could be better than that?

For a detailed look at the quilt, you can click on this link.

Sheepdog trial entries open Monday, March 1st. Think Spring!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Enough is Enough!

I've had it with the rain. And we have more rain in the forecast again for several more days. The next break looks like it will be Sunday. Ugh! I am so sick of mud.
Tonight working with Rime on the sheep was like dog training in a rice paddy. He didn't care; the splashing water just kept him cool and going like there was no limit to his energy. That's what it's all about when you are just fourteen months old. Forty-five minutes later, and he was still not tired but he did give me some nice work (for the most part).

I guess I should turn this around and say that I am thankful that we got a small break in the rain this afternoon and some sunshine so that I could at least work and run dogs this evening!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

This Week

This has seemed like a long week. Monday, we went to Zamora for the Nursery/Pro-Novice portion of the Slaven's Zamora Hills Sheepdog Trial. Coal drew up later in the P-N running order so we did not take our turn at the post until about noon and by then the sheep had turned cranky, as they had on the prior days by midday/afternoon. We timed out on the drive, so it's back to the drawing board. The trial was very nice though, the weather fantastic, and of course as always the field and sheep the most challenging around. Candy Kennedy put an excellent write-up from her perspective (link below, to "Training Border Collies") and it says it all. A hearty thank-you to all involved who helped to bring this wonderful event to us once again. I clerked on Sunday afternoon for the Open with judge Elgar Hughes from Wales, which was most enjoyable.

We've had several days with no rain, so it has been really nice to have things dry out a bit. Coal and Rime have gotten in a bit of sheep work several days this week, and all three dogs have been able to run off some of their craziness. However, rain is in the forecast for the next few days, so I fear we will be right back where we were in terms of mud.

This week also marked the one-year anniversary of Rime's arrival and it is hard to compare the lanky 42-pound 14-month old teenager of the present to the tiny 10-week old who flew into SFO in a 100 crate last year. Rime and I are coming to a meeting of the minds on his sheepdog work; foremost right now is letting him develop his method without too much interference, but the only thing I am insisting upon is his stop. If he will stop for me then I can really broaden his horizons, so that's where we are. He shows some nice things and does not lack for enthusiasm.

Today was the Redwood Empire Sheepdog Association's annual meeting. You must attend this meeting in order to be in contention for the high-points competition during the year, and beyond that all the important decisions for the year are made, a new Board is elected, and so on. The meeting went very well, except for one thing, that I ended up on the Board! What's up with that? So now I am on the Board of not one, but two sheepdog clubs. But, it's nice to look forward to spring, and the RESDA trial calendar beginning in April.

Coal's next trial will be the Sonoma Wine Country here in Santa Rosa, followed by an AHBA ranch trial. Then the RESDA year begins, followed by (I hope) at least a few more USBCHA trials. We are still working on that shedding!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Hare-Raising Story

What I am about to write has nothing to do with border collies. But it is a "one for the book" story because my oneforthebook teammates have approved it as such.

These days I show up for work early. I start at 7:00 AM, which means I am walking up to the office at minutes before seven o'clock, and right now that means that grey area just before daylight. We call it the "predator hour" in Sheep-Ville, for good reasons, as that's when the coyote and other predators like to hunt.

I was walking up the sidewalk to my office building yesterday morning, not 30 yards from the door that I enter. Around our office complex there are lots of trees, hills, landscaping and other cover that makes it prime for wildlife. We often have deer, wild turkeys, and other animals sharing our parking lots and sidewalks with us, which makes for interesting views out the many windows. Yesterday a very large bunny ran excitedly across the sidewalk and almost smashed into my shins. The bunny had long ears and big feet and was in high gear. I thought to myself, "it's weird that bunny had no fear of me" and trudged on closer to the office building, my mind in the clouds.

A second or two later, I realized why our bunny was on the run. Behind it was a coyote at top speed with its ears forward and head up searching for the nearly lost prey. The coyote had taken about as much notice of me as the bunny had, i.e. none, as I walked almost up to the glass and steel office building by now. Finally the coyote saw me but didn't stop running. The coyote was not more than about 20 feet from me so I just stepped into its shoulder like we would step into a border collie to slightly push it off its sheep. The coyote swung out in a smooth away to me flank and continued on down the parking lot searching with its head up for the bunny (who by now had disappeared into the thick trees surrounding the parking lot).

I was not more than 10 feet from the door of the building at this point and wondering what excitement had crossed my path so quickly that was over with so fast.

My office mates and I have seen a coyote several early mornings trotting confidently across or down the streets of the office complex. There are some abandoned buildings, plenty of tree cover and bushes, and probably lots of habitat for all kinds of animals, small and larger. There are wine grapes to eat when in season and a small lake up the hill for water and other critters. There are all the elements for wildlife to exist. I would be thrilled if all of the coyotes in Sonoma County could congregate at this office complex and leave our sheep alone in other parts of the county. Wouldn't that be grand? Come to think of it, no one at my office has seen any of the wild turkeys lately...oh dear.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Border Collie Joke

Thanks to my buddy Bob T. for sending me this comic. ;-)

I will not complain about our endless rain here (for the most part) after seeing all the snowy photographs from the midwest and east coast this weekend. The sun is shining here today and I am very thankful for that! The dogs will be very happy to get some work and exercise today, and me too.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

So Far, So Good

Despite the rainy forecast, we have skated along so far this week getting only a few drops and light showers here and there. Below are more blurry camera phone photos at dusk of the same exact field that was under water two weeks ago. There is still some standing water that you can't see, but the dogs love body surfing in the big puddles and it's good enough footing to work the dogs on the sheep here.

There was one of our rare pretty sunsets and this photo is horrible, but it will serve as a placeholder in my mind of what was actually a very pretty sunset. Both Coal and Rime got a good workout tonight and all three dogs got a very rousing run afterwards, just before dark. Perspective regained!