Monday, August 2, 2010

All the News

I need to post all the news that's fit to print because I am behind on blogging. Well, sort of all the news. Last week we had the Sonoma County Fair RESDA sheepdog trial. It was held Thursday evening and with the cold weather we have been having, only the die-hards were there as spectators. It was still a fun trial though and I always enjoy the fairs no matter how well we do (or not!). Once again Barbara showed us how it was done with two beautiful runs to take first and second. Third was Bill and his new dog Max which was fun for everyone to see. From there you will have to check the RESDA website for results!  You will see that Coal and I did not do very well; he ran next to last (21 out of 22 dogs) and by then he was on his own plan as to handling the course. We ended up retiring at the second panel when it seemed that discretion was going to be the better part of valor in getting out of the arena with part of our dignity still intact. Hope springs eternal as we look forward to our next trial at the Mendocino fairgrounds, in the day light! Same Johnson sheep, but we hope that on their familiar turf that we will have a better time with them.

This past Sunday found us at another RESDA novice workday in Santa Rosa. I took a few pictures of other people working through the interesting "ranch-style" course that had been set up. I really enjoyed this course. If you look at my Picasa album you can see all the photos and follow along with the course in the photos in order. Below are a few of the photos.

Setting sheep to start the course
Drive panel 1 in the big field
Settling sheep to attempt loading the truck

The course started in a small field with a gather and then a hold in the center area marked by stanchions and caution tape. Then you had the option of proceeding around the obstacles in any order, going through them or around them but only two attempts are allowed at each obstacle. When you have finished in this ring, you then go out to the bigger field with your sheep and left-hand drive (or fetch, or assisted-drive) the two panels in the larger area. Following the drive was a tiny pen with a narrow gate; this was difficult to manuever as the sheep wanted to run past the pen and go "home" by this time. Last there was an area set up with loading panels and a chute to load sheep into a truck for "transport". Time allotted for all of the above was 12 minutes and most teams did not make it all the way through, although some did. One person got 1 sheep on the truck. Another person completed the tiny pen. Many made very good attempts at the tiny pen and the truck! Careful stockmanship was valuable! Thanks to all who helped to put on this workday. Unfortunately I did not get pictures of everyone, and I didn't get any pictures of the more novice dogs and handlers who were working in another area. Next time! There were a lot of nice dogs.

I ran the course with both of my dogs. It was Rime's first try at a prescribed course. We made it through all of the exercises and obstacles in the first arena. When we headed out to the big field Rime got a bit excited at the sheep running off and he decided it was time to split them up. Oh well! So I decided against proceeding with the big-field obstacles and instead focused on getting a nice smooth trip with the sheep down to the exhaust area. Really overall Rime handled the "pressure" of a fun trial very well for his first time. He is coming along!

Having had fun out on the course with Rime I wanted to try it with Coal. So with some encouragement we set out to try to make it all the way 'round in the alotted time (12 minutes). It was a fun course to run and we got the sheep penned in the second (tiny) pen and proceeded to settle our sheep in the loading area for the truck when time was called. Coal was getting warm so I quit even though we would have been allowed to try to finish loading the truck because his work was quiet.

So overall, that is about all of the sheep and dog news. Sheep have been shifted over the past few weeks, some have gone to new permanent homes to help others get started with their sheepdogs, and some have been moved to other semi-permanent pastures. What is left we will be feeding hay and supplements to, so that number is manageable for the rest of summer/fall.  I'm also trying to ramp up my training for Rime to try to bring him on, as well as to polish up Coal's work. The "sheep year" travels on! It's time to start looking forward to the fall trials and plan on which ones to participate in.

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