Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Updates from a Busy World...

There are still a lot of photos that I want to post from Sonoma County Fair...when I get the time to edit and organize them. I'm working on it...

I am also working on creating a page on the blog for each of my dogs, past and present. You'll see tabs across the top of the blog, one each for Alix, Augie, Bid, Chief, Coal, and Ryme. I would like to add one for Joker but haven't gotten there yet. The tabs are not in any particular order; they are just the random order that I started to play with them. I didn't even realize that Blogger could perform this feature until recently. Live and learn. For now, I have at least one picture for each dog and sometimes more. I'm working on collecting special links to put on each dog's page.  Just more organizing that I want to do.

I'm also working on organizing and making archives of more than two years of photos. Ugh! Now there is a chore that I hadn't realized that had been neglected. One thing leads to another.

There is just not much time to do all this inbetween working at my very busy job, and sleeping a little bit... and exercising dogs and taking care of sheep and so forth. We got some new sheep and we're moving on some older ones to where they will be used for more dog training. Dogs need work...not entered in any trials for a while...but still we have much to polish up and improve. Not to mention taking care of self. The blog will inch along, bit by bit.

So, we are not going to the National Finals........bummed....but facing facts about finances, old tires, dead trees, and so forth. When one door closes, sometimes another opens. Coal will soon have a birthday. More blog posts, waiting to happen.

A big thumbs up from our esteemed doggie chiropractor recently on the raw diet for the dogs. She says she can feel a positive difference in the muscling of the raw fed dogs vs the kibble-fed dogs. My two working dogs, Coal and Ryme, are as well muscled as any dogs she works on, she said. That is really a vote of confidence because sometimes I wonder about the effort and expense that goes into their raw diet.

Anyone besides me making use of the Redwood Credit Union Shred-A-Thon this weekend? Yes!!! Clutterers unite!

And there is still plenty of room in the NCWSA Scottish Games sheepdog trial for Labor Day weekend. Send me those entries!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Fun in the Sun - Awards

Here is my last set of photos about the Fun in the Sun trial. There are a lot more great photos in the Picasa link, posted earlier! These are the awards, on Sunday. Most of the nice prizes were donated. Some were donated by Working Kelpies Inc. members, and others were donated by local stores, friends, and students of the trial hosts. As a judge it is fun to hand out nice prizes, but of course the winning and improving and achievement is what takes place out on on the field - and many times much of what we are competing with, is inside ourselves to improve our own performance of working with our own particular dog.

Level 2 award

High scoring Kelpie

High Combined over the weekend in Level 3 (I think!)

Beautiful border collie quilt for high combined

Level 3 HIT on Sunday (I think!)

Most promising started Kelpie (I know!) Prize was a leather lanyard with silver kelpie item on it.

And the winner of the big kahuna, the Jackpot trial.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Fun in the Sun AHBA Trial - the Course

The course started for the jackpot handlers with a blind gather of five sheep. Once they completed that portion they brought their five sheep into the main field, and added ten more sheep from a take pen. Handlers not doing the jackpot trial started with the ten sheep in the take pen.

I love the perspective of this photo through the field fencing.
 One of the harder parts of the course was a two-minute "graze". (One minute for the level 2 and level 1 dogs.) It was surprisingly difficult.
Watchful, during the graze.
 The part that separated the trial runs in most cases, however, was the sort through the race. Below is a photo of the only handler (that I remember) who made use of the drop gate in the sorting system. She made it look easy! For level 3 and jackpot handlers, five ribboned sheep were sorted back into the pen area and ten sheep without ribbons were released into the main field, to continue the course.

Awesome job!
As the day got warmer, the graze got more difficult. The sheep wanted to cluster under the two trees bordering the graze area...but the area under the trees was out of bounds for the graze. Points off.

Handler moving sheep away from those pesky trees!
 The last element of the course (which also included some other exercises not shown, including a drive, another gather, a y-chute - the decorated one shown before- and so forth) was a traditional free standing pen. I love this shot of penning at the end of a long ranch course!

Teamwork!
Ryme and I were allowed to run this course (level 3 - not jackpot) on Sunday when I was not judging. I ran Ryme noncompete. I love this aspect of AHBA - where judges can run noncompete. Ryme and I really need the mileage in a trial situation and this was an awesome place to start racking up those miles. I was caught surprised by a couple of things that obviously I need to work on. I have not done many chutes with Ryme and especially a chute that is solid boards where the sheep come out. We had set up a really nice chute but when the sheep popped out the end, Ryme also popped up to stop them! So I will have to work on doing chutes so that he knows he should let them flow out, and continue without turning them back through the chute. Homework.

Next post about this trial will show some of the awards and happy people!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Photos from Fun in the Sun AHBA, Part One

Two weekends ago we had a ton of fun judging and running in the local "Fun in the Sun" AHBA trial sponsored by the Working Kelpies, Inc. national club.

Some photos have been released from that trial that will show you all just how fun it was!

There is a complete album of pics online in a Picasa Album.

I've pulled out a few that are fun for me that are sort of "infrastructure related" for lack of a better term. There are some others that I will use later to talk about the course, and of course the wonderful awards.

Handlers Meeting at the gate where the blind gather began

Isn't this the cutest decorated Y-chute you have seen?

Queen of the Septic Mound - a good spot to judge from!

Dedicated stock handlers, 1 of 2 who kept the trial rolling with consistent quiet sets all day!

The other Queens of the Septic Mound! yeah!



Friday, August 10, 2012

Sonoma County Fair RESDA Trial 2012

First Place, Karen K and Cali

Second Place, Tom T and Angus
Gosh it's been a week since the trial and I still haven't blogged about Sonoma County Fair. So at least for now, here are the photos of the first and second place dogs and handlers. More to come!!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Sheep Drive!

So yesterday was definitely a "one for the book" kinda day.

RESDA was asked by the Sonoma County Fair, late Friday afternoon, to provide some sheepdogs and handlers to help escort a flock of sheep from downtown Santa Rosa to the fairgrounds, in a form of a "sheep drive" that would be a publicity event for Farmers' Day, Sunday, at the Fair. Their initial sheepdog handlers had fallen through for some reason and the Fair event organizers were down to the last minute to find someone to fill the spots. Last year, for the Fair's 75th Anniversary, they organized a cattle drive along the same route. This year, the Fair organizers were very excited about their "sheep drive" for the 76th year of the fair.

Oh my. At first we were very concerned about whether the dogs would be safe around vehicles including tractors, police cars, and just cars on the street. But when we heard the Fair's plan and it sounded like the dogs would be mostly for "show" we agreed to help. Handlers agreed that dogs would mostly remain on their leashes and that no one would "be a hero" under any circumstances.

Sunday morning seven RESDA handlers and dogs were vanned to Courthouse Square from the Fairgrounds, to meet our flock! There were tons of spectators about, and loads of photographers. Cameras and phones were snapping wildly! I was so glad that Coal is pretty friendly as folks were bending down to take his picture, and pet him, and admire him almost the minute we hopped out of the transport van. (That in itself was quite a feat as they sent a chrysler mini-van to pick us up and we crammed all seven dogs and handlers in, just like in a high-school prank!)

With the help of several show lambs on halter and lead, and a bale of hay on the back of the ATV leading the way, we set off down Fourth Street in downtown Santa Rosa. We had a plan to have a dog and handler on either side of the front, two on each side, and the other three following behind to trail from the rear.  Upon release and turning the corner onto Fourth, immediately the sheep bolted past us and pooled into a couple of storefronts, jumping past a boatload of spectators on the sidewalk. Oh my! So much for our plan! But once we pulled them out of the storefronts then the sheep seemed pretty happy to file along behind the ATV, grabbing for bites of hay and calling for their buddies along the way. It's a good thing none of the storefront doors were open. They might have had "Maude" and "Vanessa" stepping up for nail or hair appointments.

The parade route was, we were told, just over a mile, but on asphalt the whole way. I was very glad that it was an overcast day. About halfway along the sheep got very hot. In our position along side the front leaders, I could feel the heat pouring off the big Suffolk ewes (big enough to saddle, almost) who were the leaders - former show sheep all-  and very people-friendly. Apparently they don't go for brisk walks, often, and once they started to tire then herding them along got a bit simpler. That is, until the white-faced dorsets in the back of the group decided it was time for a coup. They were a little plucker than the big Suffolks and it took just a little convincing to keep them in line. Luckily there were almost more helpers than sheep. We had plenty of help from people with out dogs, and some FFA lambs on halters who were bringing up the rear, with mounted riders on horse back behind that. There really wasn't too much that the sheep could do wrong.  Coal figured out his (weird) job very quickly. I kept him one step ahead of the big Suffolks in the lead so that they could not get past the ATV leading them. If needed he would head them but then dropped back if they behaved. I just wonder what he thought of such a strange and hurried adventure with sheep! Making a moving sort of "fence" I held my crook out behind us so that between Coal, his long leash, and myself and my crook we covered probably 10 feet+ of space along side the sheep to keep them in line. It worked. Whew!

Ahead of us there was a merry brass band on a hayrack, playing songs like "76 Trombones" and the like. Maybe there were other songs with the number 76 in them but I was also too busy to notice, watching my sheep! The whole event was very old school. Behind the mounted riders there were antique tractors, a cowboy on stilts doing rope tricks, and more Fair directors and politicians riding and waving on hay racks. Just a small town Fair parade on a Sunday morning. Yeah!  It was nice to see, old school stuff when normally so much emphasis is placed in this area on the "upscale" and on the wine industry. Not that the wine industry is bad or anything but it was nice to see the emphasis placed on the other side of the local agriculture scene for just a while.

Today's Santa Rosa Press Democrat featured the photos on the front and back pages of the first section. There we were in full color! And RESDA got a nice comment in the news article. You can see and read it all, here:

Press Democrat link to sheep drive article

For just the photo gallery, click here;

Press Democrat photo gallery of sheep drive

Normally I do not pull other photographer's photos but giving credit where credit is due, I don't feel so badly. Anyway here are a few of the photos by PD photographer, Christopher Chung (who walked the whole parade route with us, snapping photos the entire way). He got some good shots.







If you can find Coal and me in four of these five photos, you are correct!
The next post will be about the RESDA trial at the Sonoma County Fair, which was held on Saturday, the day before the now-legendary sheep drive.



The Boyz at Carmel, our favorite place