Saturday, March 26, 2011

A Suggestion to Mother Nature

Miss Bowina at the 2010 Harvest Fair in Santa Rosa (photo courtesy Lisa Dillon)
 Dear Mother Nature,

This very happy purple cow would do a lovely dance if you could see fit to offer her some sun! Or at least a lack of rain and wind for several days? Ya think? In fact all the cows and sheep in Sonoma County could really use some sun instead of more rain and mud (not to mention the dogs and people).

Thank you,

Your grateful subjects (purple and otherwise)

Monday, March 21, 2011

Sonoma Wine Country 2011

This year the Sonoma Wine Country Sheepdog Trial was truly "one for the book". The weather was awful but the companionship was good. The dog work was still great as ever, and the sheep were fine for the most part. The rain tested everyone's rain gear to the max. The fallen tree was just the icing on the cake. Once again we can say it was fun but we are glad it is over for another year! Teri T. was on hand with her camera when the weather got a little kinder, Sunday afternoon, and snapped these nice shots of Coal working on the hill field.

Congratulations to all the winners! There were many nice prizes in the raffles and of course there was the beautiful quilt. This year the quilt went to the one individual in the crowd who as someone noted, was the only person who could possibly win it and yet make everyone else there happy.

As for a personal wrapup with my dogs, it was a mixed bag. I ran Rime in the Nursery on Friday. During his first run, in the morning, the rain was hitting us all so hard it felt like just one step away from hail. I saw him shaking his head and squinting his eyes when he got close to me with the sheep. (Later we heard there was a funnel cloud that touched down in Santa Rosa that morning!) Of course the sheep weren't too happy to be out there, either. It did not make for a great experience for Rime in one of his first trial outings. I had made up my mind to manage his outrun and we did, but things just got too difficult on the drive so I retired. In his second run I really only went to the post to try to maintain the numbers for Nursery. By the time that second run came, it was 6:30 at night and a couple of dogs had been scratched. For us it was a retire almost as soon as I sent him. Rime and I need more time to work on his training even though he works very well for me on a daily basis at our home fields and can handle almost any chore including mamas, lambs, close quarters, gathering a whole flock, or just a stubborn sheep.

Coal ran on the flat field on Saturday, again in a pouring rain storm but not as bad as during Rime's run on Friday. Coal has been on that field several times so I think he felt comfortable. He did a decent outrun and lift. The fetch was not very straight as we were nursing along one particular ewe of the four who wanted to leave exit stage right and was baa-ing for someone who wasn't with her. She made it particularly difficult to maintain any type of flow. We got halfway through the cross drive and encountered the ditch feature in the field that bisects it longitudinally. Normally this is just a hop-over for sheep and dog, but on Saturday it was a raging torrent of rushing water and the sheep just flat refused to go over. And so we ran out of time on the drive for that run.

Sunday we were lucky to run at all, given the fallen tree and all. But the show did go on, and after lunch the weather brightened a bit. We were treated to only a few scattered rain drops while waiting our turn at the post on the hill field. Coal has never set foot on the hill field before and I have never run a dog over there. After I sent him, I just waited as he went out of sight and then watched for any movement in the sheep. On this field Coal did what I thought was a better outrun and the way the field is, the handler really cannot see the lift. The fetch was nicer, and through the gates. We got into trouble, though, on the drive once again, and lost almost all of our drive points. While we got the shed, it was not pretty and we timed out attempting the pen. I'm very happy with the two gathers in Open and we have much to work on, from there. Coal seems none the worse for wear from the runs, and is his typically happy self. I do enjoy running him!

It is always fun helping out with this trial and there were some spectacular runs by the top handlers. There were also some firsts and personal bests among the more local crowd including Lorin D.who won the big Pro-Novice class on Friday. Congratulations!

Wet, Windy, Woolie

The weather for this year's Sonoma Wine Country Sheepdog trial was the worst that anyone could remember from years past. Rain, hail, wind, and more misery. Saturday night in Santa Rosa, there was a high wind warning. Early Sunday morning we learned that a huge oak had fallen across the driveway to the trial site and was blocking the road as well. The trial must go on, however, so the tree was cleared with the help of an arborist, several handlers and trial crew. The trial got underway late but we were rewarded with decent weather the rest of the day, especially in the afternoon.

First handler on the hill field getting her run under way. Whew!

More to come about the trial in a later post...

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Many Hands

It takes many hands to create a sheepdog trial. A ranch needs to be transformed into a trial field, and in this case, two complete trial fields. Before anyone steps to the post, a lot of work goes into preparation. Just as the dogs have been trained for a couple of years, and the handlers have studied and practiced, the venue for the trial is groomed and prepped. Those who have helped create this transformation over the course of many years all know their jobs. It helps when there is a beautiful day to do that work!

The barn has been all swept and the stalls cleaned for vendors to set up
Supplies are gathered
A door is to be painted
Tarping the setout pen for the flat field
Almost complete
Catching a ride over to the hill field
Assembly line on the hill field

Using the filter fabric made tarping much easier
Discussing strategies!
Tarping complete!
Peaceful ranch that next weekend will be the scene of much activity!

Photos by T. Tucker - thanks once again!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Countdown to Sonoma Wine Country Sheepdog Trial

So, we spring forward tonight and the countdown clock really begins for the final week leading up to the annual Sonoma Wine Country Sheepdog Trial. Here is Bid running Pro-Novice at 2008's trial:

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Get A Grip!

In the spirit of good fun, as he put it, my very talented friend and videographer George Powell has created another amazing video out of footage from last year's RESDA trials:


If you need a good laugh, take a look! That's yours truly and Coal at the tail end, closing the pen gate with only a few seconds to spare...

Sunday, March 6, 2011

City Park Sheep

My friend Linda Rorem has written another of her wonderful and informative articles about sheep and sheepdog history on her website, Herding on the Web.

I think you will enjoy reading about sheep who were employed to graze some of the biggest city parks in America in the late 1800s and early 1900s.


Wednesday, March 2, 2011

A Ducky Time

Last Sunday we had fun working ducks. Both Coal and Rime got to play. There aren't any photos of Coal, which is too bad, because he is too cute insisting on carrying a ball in his mouth when he works birds. But here are some nice photos of Rime (thanks again, Teri).

Photos by T. Tucker