The name of this blog comes from the book that we have good intentions about writing, about escapades of border collies and sheep....that are memorable enough to be called "one for the book". It will also contain memories and updates of dogs, sheep and people, past and present.
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I am still cleaning out files. In my emails, I ran across the link to this 1991 article by Donald McCaig that was carried in Sports Illustrated. All of the sheepdog fans out there will find it interesting, I think. Be sure to read to the very last quote!
This is a silly phone photo (not the best) but so rarely do I have all three dogs chained to the fence at the pasture I just had to grab it. The dogs are tied up so that I could move my truck safely after unloading hay. Chiefie looks a bit disgusted because he never gets chained up. I'm sure he would rather be out sniffing, rolling in and especially eating, sheep goodies on his free time!
Rime looks like he is thinking, "Oh boy we're chained up! We're gonna work sheep! Oh boy!"
Coal seems to be asking, "You stuck me next to him?"
Some of my dearly beloved fellow bloggers are looking forward philosophically to 2011 already. They already have their 2010 "house cleaned" and their bags packed for the new year. Oy. In my true procrastinator's fashion, I am still deeply and hopelessly entrenched in 2010. Today's post concerns a topic that is only vaguely related to the dogs and sheep (but still related -- you'll see!!), however, still important. When I moved to California in 1996, I kept hearing, "it's all about the food". I didn't get it. I came from Illinois, the midwest, the breadbasket, the food machine of the nation, if not the world. We grew corn and soy, and raised hogs and cows. We went to the Hoopeston Sweet Corn Festival as kids and got free steaming hot ears of sweet corn that were cooked in a railroad steam engine boiler. I worked at one of the Land Grant Universities for years, where there were corn plants in a test plot visible out my window and a livestock pavilion next door to the office. The vet school was down the street and I made friends with the university shepherd. My friends worked at the university dairy barn. What else could people be talking about? Little did I know that California had a whole 'nother story to tell.
In 2010 I did something I had been wanting to do for years, and that was to start participating in a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program for a weekly box of veggies and fruits. I signed up in June for a weekly box from Valley End Farm. Every Tuesday I go and pick up my box. Clint eagerly shows me what's inside the box for this week and often makes suggestions on how things can be cooked. They also offer free-range eggs. For a while this summer, we were treated to weekly locally-raised and grass-fed meat offerings (lamb, beef, pork and chicken) from the Victorian Farmstead (Sebastopol) as well.
So this year I have not only enjoyed eating locally grown veggies and fruits that are sold by a farm only a couple of miles from my house, but I have learned to cook and eat the following veggies, some of which I had never touched before!
Arugula, chard (both yellow and red), kale, turnips, beets, mustard greens, butternut squash and eggplant! (to name a few)...
On a regular basis we also get locally grown and mostly organic potatoes, several types of radishes, sweet potatoes, celery, lovely carrots with the tops on, gourmet mushrooms, oranges, avocadoes, tangerines, tomatoes, plums, pears, apples, butter lettuce, leaf lettuce. Herbs are a bonus at times, such as rosemary, spearmint, and all kinds of basil.
And yes, we did get sweet corn. That is the only California product that disappoints me to this day. It's just not the same as Hoopeston. Oh well, you can't win 'em all.
Whatever I don't get eaten in a week, can become part of the dogs' food. They love it! We are all eating better and I feel great helping to support local ag. So whatever else happened in 2010, I feel good about this one thing.
Last summer, Coal had some physical issues that I did not share with many folks. My vet and I were really worried about him. He presented with reverse sneezing and just not feeling good, nor working very well, but not really sick. After blood work and a thorough exam, we could find nothing wrong, except that my vet could hear a split heart sound. This is a very serious finding. He went on some antibiotics and other meds, and I only worked him lightly so that he was not over-taxed. We went back several times to the vet's office so that she could listen to Coal's heart. We thought he might need further workup for a potential cardiac condition which could prevent him from working (or worse). But, at our last visit in July his heart sounded okay. We all breathed a huge sigh of relief. Since then he has worked, played, and felt well. He never went off feed or had a temperature. Still a nagging bit of worry remained for me. Yesterday he went back to the vet for a routine exam, and she concluded that his heart sounds just fine! This was an early Christmas present for me. I am very, very thankful.
The stockdog world has lost a great lady -- Pam Cornell -- who owned Willowside Ranch in Pescadero, CA. Pam was a purposeful lady who created a dream showcase for many folks in which to work their dogs on sheep, geese, and other stock. Pam was the definition of "Class" in every sense of the word. I know she would not want us to be sad but we are all very much affected by the news of her passing.
I can see her working her beloved dog, "Tar" on the sheep. I recall her telling the story lovingly how Tar laid down on a duck at the Collie Family Showcase that one year, simply because she told him to "lie down, Tar!". Tar simply adored Pam, as we all did. Pip, "the Queen of the Ducks" and Pam were a force to be reckoned with on the AHBA trial course..I can't count how many times Pip took first or second place in the duck classes with her prowess. Pam was always cheery, always encouraging, always positive. Her vision for the ranch is something that enabled many of us in Northern California (and from other parts of the country as visitors, as well) to gain experience, follow our hearts, and live our dreams. I can't thank Pam enough.
Pam (in pale blue sweater) accepting an AHBA trial placement ribbon from Linda Rorem at Willowside Ranch in Feb. 2009
It was truly a privilege to know Pam, and as someone else said, it is a very sad time in the border collie community.
Rime will be two years old tomorrow, December 6th. He's changed from this cute little puppy:
Then to a gangly yearling like this:
People ask me where his name comes from; invariably before I can answer, they laugh and say "it must mean no rhyme or reason". That is probably true, however what I had in mind when I chose this name was a dual meaning: first, I was an English major in college, so the "rime" (or rhyme, for poetry) is something I have studied a lot. Somehow it appealed to me to have a dog who might work or move like poetry in motion. Second, besides poetry, rime has another meaning, for a type of frost or ice that has a "rim" on leaves and grasses outlining them in sparkly frost. I thought this was appropriate (i.e., a weather name) since Rime's father's name is Fog and his grandmother's name is Cloud. I liked the short name with a consonant beginning that was different from my other dogs' names.
For the past year Rime and I have worked very hard on his sheepdog training, at least four times a week and sometimes five or more times per week. He's at the point now where things are starting to click together. He's doing longer gathers now, is almost entirely on my whistles and is doing drives and crossdrives with more and more control and precision. He's a capable and helpful chore dog and can do just about anything I need to do with our sheep at our various fields. He has not helped with lambing ewes yet (but no doubt will soon) and I have not started to teach him to shed. But, I am very hopeful that he will be able to trial in 2011 in Pro-Novice and Nursery. It is a dream come true to have a second dog to trial along with Coal! Special thanks should go to his breeder and my sheep partners and trainer for helping me to bring him along. So, Happy Birthday to Rime!