Friday, August 15, 2014

Summer in the State of Jefferson

Ok, anyone who knows me at all knows that I do not like hot. Hot, hot, not. I do not like hot. I sound like Dr. Seuss but I mean it -- I do not like HOT.

Despite this bias I managed to have a really fun time on our trip to the Summer in the State of Jefferson sheepdog trial this past weekend. It was not only hot (like 97 degrees in the afternoon and it might cool all the way off to maybe 91 by eight or nine pm, oh my.....) but it was also smoky from all the many fires in northern California/southern Oregon. I have mild asthma...I do not like smoky any more than I like hot. But I survived, and more than that, I enjoyed myself.

There were firefighters in all the motels in town, and in all the restaurants and coffee shops. They had come from all over California, and whenever we had a chance, we thanked them for their sacrifice of being away from home, and their service to our state.

Neither hot nor smoky managed to dampen the enthusiasm of the sheepdog triallers who showed up to run in this really fun, well organized trial. The field was lovely, and huge. I am guessing about 40 acres? And the sheep were lovely, and huge. Suffolks. But not bad Suffolks. Since they are worked regularly by dogs, they worked well, unless it got too hot (see paragraph #1 and #2) then they got rather sluggish. So if you ran in the first half of the order you had a pretty good chance. If you ran in the second half of the running order, then you really needed some luck. Suffolks are different and they are certainly nothing that Coal has ever worked before. They were as big as range ewes, almost, but with none of the touchiness of range ewes. The Suffolks also do not flock as much as some of the other breeds of sheep, which created an issue if you had one ewe going this way, another ewe going that way and perhaps a weaned half-grown lamb going a third way. The dog cannot be in three places at once so you'd best not get yourself into that situation in the first place which Coal and I learned the hard way on the first day. sigh. The second day it was really hot when we ran (I think I have mentioned the temperatures, just maybe) and Coal is just too nice. He ran out and then couldn't or wouldn't lift the sheep off the setout point. Disappointing, but they were going nowhere. So thus Coal and I ended up the trial with two RTs. Not exactly what I had in mind but also not a huge surprise. We are so out of practice on trialling. We had not been to a trial out of our immediate area in two years.

The trial committee had thought of everything. Because of the fire danger all around us they had strategically placed fire extinguishers all along the barrier between the parking and the trial field. They ran out and brought in our orders of deli sandwiches, each day.  There were dog cooling tubs both on and off the field. There were tents to gather in the shade under, and hand wipes outside the porta potty, and tons of hospitality, help with questions as to where to go eat and references to a great auto mechanic and whatever you needed. There were smiles all around and lots of helpers. Everyone pitched in. Just the kind of trial that is fun to go to. A lack of drama and a huge dose of fun and good dog work. If I am able to, I would certainly be happy to go back to a trial in the State of Jefferson! And maybe we will do a little better.......I am working on it! :)


Donna said...

Wow Billy! What a very nice, and fun to read, post. So glad you want to come back. And we all agree it was way to hot and smokey, but it sure didn't get in our way of fun. We already talked about having it in a different month next year. See you then. Hugs! Donna Larson & Kam

Billy said...

Thank you again for all your hard work. Even though my runs with Coal were bad, and other things happened (like car trouble), and the smoke and heat (which you can't control or predict) we all had a great time!