Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Wordless Wednesday - Happy New Year

Chiefie and the rest of us are looking forward to 2015, the Year of the (blue) Sheep!

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Coal on Christmas

Here are Coal's Christmas 2014 pictures. He has been a good boy, and even though you get coal in your stocking from Santa Claus if you have been a bad kid, I have always felt blessed to have such a good Coal in my life. :) Even though he is a little monkey at times!

Friday, December 26, 2014

Spot's Progress, 12-26-2014

Spot's photo from Christmas Day, 2014
Patience is the Key

I haven't posted on Spot's progress for a while. It feels like we are in another one of those "plateau" stages again. I have to just be patient and keep working with him, and I am sure we will take another step forward at some point, very soon. We've been through these plateau periods several times in the past year or so. Patience is the key; sigh! Sometimes patience is difficult to muster! :)

Overall, Spot's doing well. He can do a nice short to medium gather without the wheels falling off. But, if I send him too far, those wheels may go flyin'! It's all stuff we have to work through and figure out together.

The driving is coming along, slowly. He is getting it about driving, but the steering part, is coming a little more slowly. He is getting the idea of the inside flanks, if I am super careful about setting them up with relation to the draws, the sheep, and me. I do put a solid stop in between each command...he needs it. The outside small flanks are almost harder to do because he wants to take them as a full flank all the way around to the heads, to gather. I am trying to work on all of this without getting too picky on him and flustering the both of us.

His recall is good. The whistles for stop and steady are in place; the whistles for the flanks are not all depends on the situation.

I use him for whatever small "chores" that we may have...which are not many. So sometimes I make up a chore just to do something different. Recently I was super pleased because I sent him into a smaller paddock for a group of about a dozen half-grown lambs, out a gate, then brought them through another narrow-ish field, and through another gate out into a large pasture. Spot took every stop and flank that I asked him to take, while escorting those lambs out to the field. It felt super to make that happen without any kerfluffles! :)  So there IS progress, once I start to add it all up. He is a good boy and tries hard.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Christmas Morning Fun

Dogs love water. I love doing chores on holidays and just hanging out with the animals. The guardian dog, Neve, got extra treats with his breakfast. The Scotties got some apples in addition to their alfalfa. The boys decided that playing in the little seasonal pond was great fun.

A branch had blown down from the tree that hovers over the seasonal pond. It must've blown down last night or yesterday when we had some winds blow through. The weather has changed from warm and wet to cool and sunny. The branch was in the seasonal pond and the dogs thought it needed a lot of attention. Ryme and Coal decided that it needed to be dragged out of the water and it was funny to watch them tackle that job together.

Ryme says this baby is mine!

Ryme and Coal work on dragging the branch out while Spot supervises

Ryme and Coal are still working on that branch!

Even Chiefie gets in there to help!
Ryme and his prize, dragged almost to "shore". 

Christmas is a time of gratefulness and sentiment; and connecting with family and friends. I'm always grateful when I can spend some time out with the animals, and give my dogs a chance to just be dogs having fun.

I did work Spot after all the water fun, but I didn't take any pictures of him. We will have to try another day when someone else is out there with me.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Cool Pics of Coal from Dunnigan Hills

Wow, I was really surprised and pleased to find these three gorgeous photos of Coal in my message in box. They were taken at Bill Berhow's Dunnigan Hills Fall trial a few weeks ago by K. Nichols.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Wordless Wednesday - Ryme & Scotties, last winter

This photo is from January 2014. We had no rain at this point in the winter.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Rain Like in the Old Days

Whew! We've had rain this week! We asked for it, and we prayed for it, and we did just about every other thing to beg for it, and by golly, we got it. All at once. Folks are saying that water rose up to places where it had never risen before. Wow. Lots of flooding and trees blown down, and other damage. A friend said it was "rain like in the old days" which I thought fit so well. We've had a long dry spell to say the least.

Spot working a week or so ago
The picture above is from a week or so ago. See the little bright green ditch that is between Spot and the sheep? That is now full of water. See the lighter green depression off to the right shoulders of the sheep? That is a vernal pool which is now full of water. Water, water, everywhere!

We worked dogs this morning and my guys were so happy to get out. They have been sequestered for almost a week. Everyone worked well considering they have been on hiatus.The only problem was working in amongst and around all the pools of water. It made for some interesting reactions in the dogs, and it makes the sheep reluctant to go in certain directions. I had to think a bit differently in order to work the dogs on things I had in mind to work on.

I had to pull out rubber boots that hardly got worn at all last year. I am still looking for overshoes that will go over my regular leather work boots. The muck boots are OK but do not provide much support. Last year I skated through; this year I will not be able to!

I know the drought is not over. I saw today online that Shasta is still only at about 30% capacity. But, that is up from the 20-something % capacity (less than 25%) that I saw only a few weeks back.  It will take a lot of water, rain like in the old days, to replenish Shasta. But it seems to be on its way there!

Friday, December 12, 2014

Friday Foto

I did not have time for Wordless Wednesday this week, so here is a Friday Foto (photo) of Spot.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Dunnigan Hills Fall 2014

a beautiful day at the Dunnigan Hills trial

from exhaust back up to judge's trailer, handlers, and spectators
Coal and I had a great time at the Dunnigan Hills Fall sheepdog trial. We had two open runs and I am happy to say that we completed the course -- finished!! -- on both runs. We made all the gates, too. They weren't the polished runs that I would prefer to look back on but they were good.  

A happy Coal after his run!
Coal tried hard and was really perky after both of his runs. At age eight  I am very glad to see him act like that! One issue though, was he would not stop for me at all on Saturday's run. Rather than fight with him on the trial field, on Monday's run I elected to just go with it and steady and steer him instead. It worked. He still needs to stop for me, and we will be working on that in practice (as we already have been but clearly it is not ingrained enough to hold up at a trial!). But a wise trainer told me once that if the dog won't stop in a trial there is no sense yelling on and on at the dog and making the judge wonder what you are doing. You have a few choices but if your dog is the type who can run a course that way, then go for it, run the trial with your steady, and fix the no-stopping problem at home. It's not ideal but that's what we did.

Saturday's weather was beautiful (the photos above are from Saturday) after the fog lifted. There was a slight delay in running dogs both days I was there, due to fog. Monday's weather was colder and more foggy, and the sky remained cloudy and it never really cleared up. That was all OK with me because we did not get rained on and it stayed nice and cool for the dogs and sheep.

I am super appreciative of such a great trial so close to home. I am grateful for the trial hosts who put it on, the judge, clerk, and all the helpers including the fabulous setout crew and course director, and all. The Chico CSU kids brought food and drinks to sell, on the weekend, which I am sure was greatly enjoyed by everyone. We were all also very glad to see all the green grass starting to sprout on those Dunnigan hills...after the several drought years it was a welcome sight.

What surprised me and also what seemed to be on the tip of everyone's tongue, was the question of when Spot will make his debut in a trial. I don't know but it might be soon, just as a practice to get him out for experience's sake.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Working Dogs in the Rain

working in the green grass, The Rymon pictured :)

Should I change his name from Spot to Stretch?
I had a day off today, so I enjoyed working my dogs and they enjoyed it too...despite the intermittent showers (and one big downpour which caught me out in the field with Spot and Coal, but luckily I had put a raincoat and rain pants on) it was so nice to be out in the green (growing) grass. Talking with other friends, we realized that last year we hardly even got our rain gear out of mothballs, so to speak. I don't think I wore my rain pants more than once or twice.

Ryme proved himself quite useful to bring in the sheep and sort them for the other dogs to work. At one point I was particularly proud of him as he was able to shed a large group of sheep just on my voice commands, while I was twenty or thirty yards away from him (holding the gate for the smaller group to go through into the larger pasture). I haven't really tried this much with Ryme although I have been working on his farm-style shedding. All of a sudden it must've made sense to him (doing a real job) so it was neat to see. I learned to do these faraway sheds from our trainer, and always laugh at myself when I am able to pull them off. It is either a sign of great skill or great unwillingness to walk further back and forth; I am not sure which. :)

Tomorrow is Ryme's birthday and he will be six years old. I'm pleased that he's able to help me so much as a chore dog even though he has not worked out to be a trial dog, as I had hoped.

I took Coal and Spot out together, and tied one to the fence while I worked the other. Again, it could be laziness or it could be my feet were starting to hurt. Anyway by the time it was their turn, the big downpour had started. The pouring rain did not dampen Spot's enthusiasm, nor Coal's. Coal tried to say that it meant he did not have to lie down on whistle nor verbal but I soon set him straight on that. There was not that much water pouring into his Dumbo ears!!

The water was starting to fill up low-lying areas. Soon the vernal pools will be filled. It is wonderful to see this happening as we had almost no rain last winter, and certainly nothing by this point in time last year.

Chiefie is lobbying for his supper, quite unmercifully. So here's to the rain!