Monday, December 28, 2009

Road Rage Redux

Evidently somewhere along the line in the last few weeks I made this blog post and never published it. Oopsie! This might just be rantings of a mad woman (er, uh, as if any of my posts are anything but) but reading after the fact I found it amusing. Here it is:

Road Rage

It's hard to road rage someone when that someone is a cop in front of you sitting through the green left turn arrow. Doesn't he know that the green arrow only stays green for approximately five seconds? Doesn't he know it's stupid hard to turn on the green yield at this particular stop light? So, what, I'm reduced to sitting back there fluttering my hands and just HOPING he'll look up since I'm sure as spitting not going to honk my horn at a cop? Who beeps their horn at a cop? Not me in my way-past-due-for-inspection minivan. But really, he's standing between me and "The Baconator". That's two gigantor beef patties and enough bacon to send me into cardiac arrest with one bite. He wants to get between me and THAT? Not advisable.

Is road rage a verb? I don't think so, but it should be. I will admit that road-raging someone isn't terribly effective when you're driving a mini-van full of dog crates. It surely takes some of the sting out of it. Well, then there's the fact that the CrazyMobile doesn't have much get up and go - and it's hard to tailgate when you can't keep up. Oh, but I can cuss them out in their rear-view mirror like it's nobody's business. Then there's the fact that I don't speed. This is, of course, is an obstacle to be overcome in the act of road raging. But I win extra road-rage points for intent.

Just like sheep can read the dog's intent, so should other drivers on the road get MY intent. It's hot, mad, angry, and more than a little crazy. If I could keep up I'd kick their bad-driver behinds. But for those two seconds at the stoplight I'm all UP in their tail pipes. For those two seconds I'm a badass. That's those moments right before I push the gas pedal and the engine just rattles a little louder.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Training Linc


(Photo by Robin French)

I suppose this is my dog blog most of the time, but here lately I haven't had much dog-blogging to do. We're in a bit of a holding pattern here, the dogs and I, since I'm limited as to how much work I can get my dogs at the moment. I've got limited mobility, limited fundage, and I can't do any trials right now. But, I figure I can't ONLY talk about farting in colors and whatever other stupid stuff that strikes my fancy, so maybe I'll actually talk about training a dog for a change.

So. Nick's rocking right along. Not much to talk about there - I absolutely adore and depend on him. I think everyone should have a first dog like him. He's been so good for me - and he keeps my shoulder blades warm at night too. Nick believes in yes ma'am moments. He has opinions but he's open to my input, unless I'm REALLY wrong. Sometimes even then. But he believes in yes ma'am moments.

Linc is interesting. Linc doesn't believe in yes ma'am moments. He believes in "tell me why I should listen to you" moments, "make me" moments, and sometimes in "please make it clearer because I just don't get it" moments. I'm a bit slow on the uptake sometimes, and not always fast to know where his head is some days. Linc is complicated. He's complex. He's stunning to watch. He has a shiny coat.

At the Water Cress SDT he was weird about walking straight in on the sheep - and I've seen that since. So two weekends ago we tried just letting him figure it out. Linc has a tendency to ratchet up when I correct him, so Robin and I worked on letting him know when he was where I wanted him, and otherwise leaving him alone (more or less ignoring some of the silliness). So last weekend he demonstrated that he had remembered how to bring the sheep - how to run out enthusiastically, how to walk in, and how to bring them.

So then I had to remind him he needed to stop. We'd moved on to some driving, and while tooling along I'd try to stop him. Of course I would - he was starting to slip around (ok, not slipping, more like careening) and I was trying to manage him with a stop. He wasn't listening, I was riding him, and next thing I knew he'd be blowing into the sheep on the side. Robin explained that I needed to make it clear what I wanted (not nagging for sure, which I was doing) and clear up the grey areas.

This time we used corrections when he tried to slip around the sides of the sheep (instead of my nagging him to lie down and correcting him BADLY and ineffectively as he was already committed to finding a sheep to hang off of), and talked nicely to him as he began to fall in behind the sheep. 'Lo and behold as I made this clear to him he began to soften. He was *getting it*. He was not only getting it, but he was taking corrections nicely (as opposed to butting heads with me), understanding what I wanted, and we both got to go home happy and pleased with ourselves. He finally got to the point where he wasn't testing the edges, he just was happy to sit back there and drive the sheep. A soft word from me had him adjusting. When we left Robin's last weekend I had another dog that believed in yes ma'am moments - even if only for that day.

I wonder, sometimes, if dogs sit around and discuss me like we do them. I can hear Linc right now:

That human. She just has the suckiest timing, and it makes me want to choke her. Since I can't choke her I just hang off of some sheep every now and then. It makes her SO mad! I just don't understand her. If she'd LISTEN to me. If she'd just be more clear maybe we'd mesh better. She does feed me. She picks up the poop a lot. I thought for a while she was eating it, but I've figured out that she's putting it in some bag as she goes along. As far as humans go she doesn't suck the most, but sometimes she REALLY makes me crazy. I have to work hard to figure her out sometimes. She's complicated. She does have shiny hair.

Yeah, thanks buddy.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Bah Humbug

Sometimes I wonder what life would be like if I actually said some of the things I think. I mean, truly, I often do. But sometimes for the sake of good old southern tact I hold back. It's the right thing to do. So here's what I really think about the holidays this year. If you're full of Christmas cheer you should probably stop reading now.

For starters, this ornament swap thing I have to go to every year? It's my idea of HELL. I respect that my step-mother is making a tradition (and I go because it's important to her). I go because I know it matters to her, but as a matter of personal things I would choose to go to this *type* of activity is not one I'd ever choose. So, on principle I have to gripe about this.

I don't do social gatherings really unless dogs and sheep (or seriously good food) is involved. None of the above is really involved in this thing. It's a bunch of people (mostly family) at my Dad's house and these types of gatherings I find very stressful.

Everyone brings an ornament. Numbers are drawn and then the sneaky Santa game is played with Christmas tree ornaments (I call this part multiple layers of hell). First off, it pisses me off when someone steals what I have, unless I hate it. Then it's OK. Hey, it's my hell, I can make my own rules. I don't like to steal from the others because it's not nice. See? Bound by my own conventions, but it's still hell. I'm expected to make nicey-nice when what I really want to do is single-handedly wipe out the fruitcake plate, which of course I eventually do because apparently I'm the only one there who likes fruitcake. While this should make me happy the guilt that follows plummets me into another kind of guilt-ridden hell.

I seriously wait until the first person leaves and I'm hot on their heels. Hell. Normal people just cannot possibly love these types of things.

So at the personal hell party I was discussing the logistics of getting my Christmas tree into my living room this year with another resident of this personal hell. As I am without big strong man I now have to depend on someone coming over to help me not only lug the 9' tree in there but also help me put it up and somehow get the topper on. Julie has offered to come help because she's way too good to me. However, I'm thinking the only way Julie and I are getting that topper on is if she stands on my shoulders. I draw the line at shoulder stands. I gave up shoulder stands when I graduated high school. That is unless you're talking about the sexy shirtless guy who plays Jacob in the "New Moon" movie. I might would relent for him.

At any rate, I lamented to her (another resident of hell) that I couldn't see going through all that trouble just to put up a tree that won't have a single present under it. Her comment? That I should wrap empty boxes so it would LOOK like there's presents.

Uh... hello? Who does that? I'm going to be the bigger woman and say that I want real presents under the tree dammit. Yeah, that's right. I'm not wrapping stupid empty boxes to go under the tree. What, is that like some sort of perpetual exercise in disappointment EVERY DAY? I can't imagine walking in there every day to be like, "Oh. They're empty." I mean, seriously, she even suggested I could write an "E" on the bottom of the empties so I'd know which was which. I almost choked on the stupid little cracker covered in some sort of unrecognizable but reasonably tasty dip.

While I'm at it, if I hear another Christmas song on the radio I'm going to claw my own ears off. And the movies? Everyone is all like "Ooooh! I LOVE all of those touching Christmas movies!" Gag me. I have crops to harvest on FarmVille. I don't have TIME for Christmas movies, and even if I did why would I want to sit around and snivel at all the Hallmark moments when I could be attending fun things like ornament swaps and white elephant parties?

Harbinger of Christmas Sneer = Me.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Of Cankles, Corn Fields, and Chicken Shows

I thought maybe some TurdiTude would make us all feel better. There. Much better.

Now on to discussions of cankles, corn fields, and chicken shows. Ever been to a chicken show? Nope, neither have I. Julie had mentioned last week she was going down to work dogs with Kelly (something about a corn field) and did I want to go? All I had to do was show up with my dogs at her house, and oh yeah, stop by a chicken show with her. Sure, I'm a dog-working ho, I can do that. Bribery works for a reason.

I was having images in my head of chickens being paraded around a ring on a leash and collar. Imagine my dismay that they actually just line chickens up in cages (one per cage) and you walk around... and look at them. I was wooed into doing this based on the idea that there wouldn't be much to look at. Oh but no. They were having a sale outside so the cankle and I wobbled around with Julie and looked at it all. Actually the chickens were all gorgeous - and there were even some big old badass gigantor chickens that will eat your children. Seriously. There were turkeys, rabbits, ducks, some chickens with floofy heads, rat terrier puppies... lots of things to look at at this chicken show thing.

On the way out Julie decided to buy a trio - two hens and a rooster. The dude she bought them from was stuffing them in a box when one of the hens made a jailbreak. She came flapping and squawking past my head and I might have let out a noise. So OK birds flapping and squawking past my head freak me out. This guy about 10 cars down on the other side of the path actually snatched her out of mid air! Julie went to retrieve the hen while the seller basically looked at me accusingly, like, why didn't I catch her? I mean, really, had he ever seen me trying to play softball he'd understand why not. The interesting thing, to me, was that when the hen was flying ALL of the other birds were *screaming*. It was like the silence of the lambs... except not. When the guy caught her it was like turning off the light switch.

I had fun, actually. Who would have known a chicken show could bring such excitement? However, my cankle was a bit unhappy by the time we left.

So we met Kelly out to work her sheep in a recently mowed (mowed? eh, whatever they do to make the corn go away) corn field. It was a beautiful place, and I'm always up for new places and new sheep to work my dogs on. Nick was his normal self - albeit there were a few exciting moments, and he got some good work in. Linc... Linc didn't have his listening ears on at first. It took me some time to get ahold of him, but after that he was working really nicely. It was a good experience in a new place - and I had a ball. Poor doughnut was terrorized though... she (he?) took a swim, and then decided to lay down on Linc. Linc didn't send her swimming though. Then... of course... both of my dogs managed to get into the pond that they weren't supposed to. Oopsie! Oh, and I almost forgot. I managed to more or less throw myself down some stairs and almost turned my ankle again. Duh.

Needless to say by the end of the day after walking around a chicken show and trudging around an uneven stubbly corn field my ankle was a very angry cankle. It's healing, but it's slow. The swelling had gone down before this past weekend, but I spent most of Sunday with it propped up. This of course gave me opportunity to watch lots of movies and just generally be a slug all day.

Nothing like a shot of those big ole bat ears fully unfurled to make a girl feel better.

There's a lot of stuff going on in my life that I can't talk about yet, but could really use some prayers or good vibes, or whatever. I've not sent in any trial entries for the next few months - so for the moment I'm just holding what I've got.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

She Falls Softly

I think maybe the title to this should probably be "she falls like a ton of bricks and makes the ground shake" but that's a lot longer and not nearly as kind to my poor self-esteem. For some reason or another here lately I've had a string of stupid falls resulting in either humiliation or pain, but mostly just pain.

A few weeks ago I opened my front door into my face. I was seriously opening the HECK out of the door. I was bringing in the groceries, and somehow managed to crack the storm-door right into my face - managing to crank it right into my nose and left eye. I fell into the house, and laid on the floor for a while moaning. I actually almost passed out, but not quite. I couldn't stay long though as I had brought home dinner also, and didn't want it to get cold. Sandy wanted to know if I'd concussed myself. Probably.

Later that night I had taken off my glasses (I wear contacts during the day and glasses at night) and was rubbing my swollen nose. I was walking back from the garbage cans in the dark, with my glasses off, and somehow I managed to fall over a bush. This would be the same bush that I've walked around almost every day for the last seven years. Anyway, I landed sort of tee peed over the bush with my behind in the air... butt crack all flashing for anyone with night goggles to see as my shirt was part-ways over my head and I was wearing low rise jeans (which are only made for skinny teenaged girls wearing cute thongs and sporting tattoos of butterflies over their cracks - none of which applies to me). I was face down with my face inches from my concrete stoop. I thought, "I sure hope nobody is watching tonight". That didn't hurt but I sure did feel stupid.

Then this past weekend at the trial I managed to fall out of Robin's camper. Twice. That's right. Normal people would maybe fall out once, but oh no. Twice. The first time I didn't hurt myself, I only felt stupid. The second time I had puppies in my arms and it was like puppy popcorn. I turned over my ankle - and it is still swollen up now. In fact... I have a cankle. That's when you can't tell your calf from your ankle. I don't think it's broken, and I know this because of my surperior armchair doctoring skills. Oh yeah, I'll probably be banned from the campers of all triallers... destined to only stand on the ground and look in longingly. After all, who wants a chick falling out of their camper on a regular basis?

In response to my own personal stupidity and misery I ate two pieces of cake yesterday. After tonight with Pam I will have indulged in bacon cheese fry debauchery multiple times this week. I have upped my quota of F Bombs for the week. If F Bombs were gas I could drive for a month without having to fill up. I've had orange fire shoot out of my eye sockets more than once in the last week, and watched four episodes of Grey's Anatomy back to back last night. I road-raged two different people on my three mile drive home from work yesterday.

I think a donut would make me feel better. Eh, make that a dozen donuts spread out over two days. That, and not hurting myself for a few weeks. Yes, I'd like a hiatus from stupid accidents until at least December. I don't think that's asking too much.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Water Cress Farm SDT

This past weekend we went to Jan Thompson's place in Limestone, TN. It was absolutely gorgeous - the mountains were spectacular, and the view on her farm took my breath away. The trial was really nice -the food fabulous, and everything ran very smoothly.

Friday Nick and I set out for Ranch. The sheep were a bit challenging to hold, but we had a ball. He is SO in his element setting out, pushing out, and working the pens. Anything that involves us getting in there and bossing sheep around makes him ridiculously happy.

Then I ran Linc in Pro-Novice. What can I say? He ran out pretty well. He stopped once, I redirected him, and he landed beautifully behind his sheep. He then commenced to do... nothing. He was just in over his head - he had no idea what to do with sheep that didn't run in abject terror due to his mere presence. I finally managed to jigger him around enough to budge them, and they bolted to the set out, where he again couldn't figure out how to lift them. I think we'll spend some time just picking up sheep here and there and moving them around. I think we'll also spend some time just letting him grow up a bit more.

Saturday morning Nick and I rolled out of bed to run second. He laid down a beautiful run - better than I would have ever expected in just his third open trial. We had *really* nice lines, and got our first shed in a trial. It wasn't a perfect shed (he took a hard look at the wrong set of sheep), but it was a shed. The sheep liked him, and though he was a bit on his horse until about 1/3 of the way through his fetch he was listening well, and did absolutely everything I asked of him. The sheep were very hard to shed all weekend, so we wasted a bit of time in the shedding ring. When he came through and the judge called it I almost did "The Charleston" in the shedding ring. For reals.

We timed out, unfortunately, as the sheep were about halfway in the pen. That's what I get for not wearing a watch, eh? I was just sort of out there tiptoeing through the tulips (I was all la la la la la in my head). Hah! I'm told that with the pen points we would probably have placed. Anyway, we made all of our panels nicely, and it felt really nice. I was pleased to see Nick holding the pressure nicely - I actually didn't say too terribly much to him.

Sunday we ran next to last. We scored better this run than Saturday's actually, but it didn't feel very good. By this time the sheep were *very* heavy. It was a strange combination because they varied from either bolting or being heavy (within the same run). Anyway, on the cross-drive he showed some stress, but he dealt with it anyway. His normal tactic to deal with heavy sheep is to flop back and forth goosing and nudging as he goes. I was pleased to see him just hunker down and keep pushing (albeit somewhat slowly). We only missed the cross-drive panels, we got our pen, and then timed out as we were trying to shed a single. We got the last one on the head but couldn't hold her.

The course and sheep were challenging, and I am pretty happy with both of us. Nicky boy was pleased with himself. Then again he's *always* pleased with himself. Several people commented about how I "kept my cool" so well, and I was so relaxed (hahahahahaha) and level headed. All I could think was, "Does this mean things were going to hell in a hand basket and I didn't notice?" and "Me? Relaxed? If they only knew." Queen of throwing up on shoes = ME.

Now that THAT is out of the way, lets talk about careening down a mountain. CAREENING I'm telling you. Julie swears up and down that it's not careening if there's four lanes of highway and the speed limit is 65, but I swear on Zippy's bloomers that we were freaking CAREENING down the mountains at dusk in a stoopid minivan. So what happens when one is careening down a mountain at dusk in a minivan? All of one's friend's seem to want to call. All I could do was screech out "I CAN'T TALK I'M CAREEEEEEEENNNNNIIIIIING!!!!!". When I got home I had to beat the pucker marks out of my seat with a rubber hammer. From here on out I'm just going to close my eyes coming down the mountain. I might be dead but at least I won't see it coming.

Photo by Dan King

Monday, October 19, 2009

Lexington SDT

We're back home, and I had a ball in Lexington. Cheryl and David put on a really nice trial. I don't know if they read blogs or whatnot, but if so Thank You both so much. I felt very welcomed and comfortable, and I'm glad I went. The field and sheep were challenging, the food was stupid good, and it was a good trial. I got to scribe for Barbara Ray for a while - and she is an absolute blast. I learned a lot, and enjoyed my time with her. Oh, and my toes were infinitely happy to be in the truck too.

It was a good weekend. Nothing froze, I didn't throw up on my shoes, and we somehow managed to not completely humiliate ourselves. Completely being the operative term. Dan and Julie kept me fed, Robin kept me showered, and dang if there wasn't actually room in front of my crates for me to sleep - and I stayed warm and dry. I did try letting Ginger sleep with me the first night but there just wasn't room. She got exiled the second night and all was good.

I decided to go on and run Linc in Nursery on Friday. I managed to get him out there on his first run, but once he got there he was a bit in over his head. He got the sheep covered and down the field, and we retired. However, I was really pleased with his attitude and the fact that he trusted me to get him up there. I'd say the outrun was about 3x anything he'd ever done. Second run his outrun was better, but he came in tight and pushed the sheep backwards. He flopped around them but as he'd rattled them one was trying to break back off to the back of beyond. To make a long story short she ran way way way back into the woods and tall grass. I had a hard time calling Linc off - he was very serious about bringing her back.

They got her back. Eventually. I was somewhat mortified, but to his credit he was trying very hard. She had other ideas. Yeah, OK, so it wasn't exactly our shining moment. Debbie Crowder Pen Goddess was up in the pens and Shay McMullen was setting out - and they were both very kind about it. Sorry y'all.

Nick's runs were better than I expected. I had to give him a lot of redirects to get him out there the first day but he too trusted me to get him out there. I sent him right the first day and it was completely blind. About halfway around he stopped and looked at me like I'd lost my mind. I just kept nudging... and though he crossed over he got there. He lifted his sheep nice and straight actually. He just rolled them gently off, and fetched them nicely making the fetch panels after a few wiggles. We did struggle around the post... gotta work on that. Our fetches are losing points as we turn the post.

His drive away was good but things got a tad squirrelly on the cross drive as they bolted at the turn. He hesitated on the inside flank there and though he gave it to me it was a situation of trying to catch them at that point. We missed the cross drive panels, and brought them back to the pen. The pen was set up so that the human was on the pressure side, so we really struggled to get them in. Apparently we got them in the pen right as time ran out and didn't get our pen points. But he treated the sheep well... they liked him, and dang if he didn't trust me to get him out there.

The second day I sent him left and gave him one redirect (and he was going to get there I thought but I was hoping to kick him out a tad... that didn't work though because my perception was WAY off). Because he came in tight he bumped the sheep, who bolted up the hill. He got on his horse and caught them though - I have to give him credit. He's struggled with running sheep in the past, and I kept calling him in, and we finished the last 1/3 of the fetch nicely. As we turned the post, however, they started turning and fighting.

Nick's never really had experience with sheep facing him off, and I was pleased to see him trying to figure it out. He tried standing his ground (they'd bolt around him as the pressure was behind him). He tried flanking and flopping... that didn't work. He tried walking in... and that worked pretty well. After a hard fought battle we got them going on their drive.... and made the drive away panels. After the turn he refused my inside flank and yet again it was bolt time. We managed to catch them and bring them to the pen. During the fight back down the hill, though, I somehow managed to forget where the pen was.

I turned around and said, "Hey. Where's the pen??". I didn't think anyone heard me, actually, but I was told later that the peanut gallery was howling. Evidently I said it with a Short-Bus look on my face. What can I say? I was concentrating on getting the sheep TO the pen... wherever it was. LOL! Anyway, we timed out before we could get them in the pen.

Our scores sucked. They deserved to suck. Nonetheless I have to have goals... and perspective, right? There were so many things I was happy with - for my dogs AND myself. I feel like I'm growing as a handler, and I think my dogs are progressing too. Besides...we didn't have the lowest score either day (yeah, OK, so it was the best I could come up with). Lofty aspirations, right? Hah! I was happy - Nick made some panels here and there, and there was some really good work in there. Nick did everything I asked of him and he really, really tried for me. I think this trial will have stretched him and taught him that when I send him for sheep... no matter where we are they'll be there.

I may be somewhat incommunicado (blog-wise) over the next few weeks. Thursday I'm heading up to Jan Thompson's trial, and at some point over the next few weeks there'll be some lessons in there. I'm planning to run Linc at Rural Hill in PN on the 6th of November, and I may see if I can get on the Open waiting list depending on what happens with lessons. Mid-November the Crazies and I will be farm-sitting, and then I'm planning to get to the VBCA winter trial at Tom Forrester's place in December.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

CWAC-2

A few weeks ago Dan King and I were out in Julie P's pasture working dogs. I was working Linc, and he'd brought the sheep up. Dan and I were standing there talking with the sheep between Linc, myself, and Dan - like a triangle.

In a conversation with Dan King:

LC: It really drives me bonkers when Linc looks at me when we're working. *looks pointedly AT Dan* It's getting better but he still looks at me.
Dan: Does he?
LC: Yeah, and it drives me batshit. I can't STAND it. I'll be he's looking at me now. Is he looking at me?
Dan: No.
LC: How about now?
Dan. No.
LC: Is he looking at the sheep?
Dan: No.
LC: Is he looking at me?
Dan: No.

short pause...

LC: Is he looking at the sheep?
Dan: No.
LC: Is he looking at me?
Dan: No.
LC: Well what's he looking at then?
Dan: *rolls eyes* I don't know... he's just... looking around. OK, now he's looking at the sky.
LC: *looks at Linc* SEE? I told you!! He's looking at me. I look over there and he's looking at me. It drives me crazy.

long pause...

LC: Is he looking at me?
Dan: No.

What a long-suffering sort Dan is.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Conversations with a Crazy

This conversation with my brother the other night:

J: Your car stinks.
LC (me): What? Nunh-uh! It does NOT you punk.
J: Yeah, it does. You have GOT to do something about it.
LC: NUNH-UH!!! It does not stink.
J: I'm telling you it does. The other night I almost threw up. When I was helping you and Sandy with her car and I had to get your jumper cables out of the van? I opened the door and it smelled so bad I almost threw up. I talked to Ashley and she thinks it stinks too.
LC: Does it smell like mold? The other day at a trial it was all rainy and I left some towels in there. It could be like... stinky towels or stinky socks or something.
J: It doesn't smell like mold.
LC: Not mold? How about stinky socks? Sometimes I pull my socks off, and then take them into the house later.
J: It doesn't smell like socks.
LC: Ok, Ok, I'll do something about it. I've been meaning to do something about it really.

Although seriously I couldn't figure out what he was smelling nor could I figure out what I was to do about it

A conversation with Sandy:

LC: My brother says the van stinks and I need you to smell it. I can't figure out what he's
smelling.

Because she's my friend Sandy agreed to smell it.

LC: Ok, ready? Take a big deep fresh air breath.
Sandy: *takes a gigantic breath and puffs her cheeks out like a pufferfish*
LC: Ok, get in, close the door fast, take a deep breath, and tell me what you smell.

Sandy gets in, and I walk around and hop into the driver's seat.

LC: Ok, what do you smell?
Sandy: Nothing.
LC: Seriously? Nothing?
Sandy: Well, maybe a faint hint of dog, but that's it. This is a dog car. I have a dog car. I don't notice dog smells. You don't notice dog smells. We have dogs in our cars.
LC: Dog? Of course it smells like dog. But you don't smell anything else stinky?
Sandy: No.

Back to my brother:

LC: Seriously. What does my car smell like then?
J: Dog.

Really? I was afraid it might smell like pond muck or dirty socks. I can live with dog. I do live with dogs. In my car, in my house, and everywhere in between. Dog. My car smells like dog. Imagine that!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Tension


Linc seems to have a lot of tension when going between me and the sheep - and the tension exists whether he's at hand or away from my feet. It was one of the reasons I retired him at Robin's trial - I could see and feel his tension building every time I asked him for an inside flank. I was thinking that maybe fixing it at hand would be the way to go, so this past weekend down at Julie's I set us up in a corner - where the draw was - with a small group of sheep.

His tension is manifesting (outwardly) in several ways - putting his head down and zooming through the pressure, pulling wool, body slamming, and also in fighting me. I've tried various types of corrections, and anything that resembles a hard correction results in him fighting me harder. He seems to ratchet up if you will. Robin and I also figured out a few weeks ago that every time I'd ask him to walk up on the sheep from behind me he struggled to walk near my legs. If I touched him actually he'd rush the sheep, dive in, and sometimes pull some wool.

So we had lots to work on. We did a lot of work with my back to the fence, asking Linc to flank around between me and the sheep (and the fence that was behind me). Smaller, shorter flanks seemed to relax him some, but I had to get through to him first to be able to stop him where I wanted to. Most of the relaxing part was deciding what to let ride and when to let him know I didn't like what he was doing.

Corrections (when needed) from the belly as Robin says, as opposed to the screeching banshee method. The long low deep voice relaxes Linc. The screeching banshee voice makes him explode. The squeaky mouse voice makes him grab sheep. Say no to screeching banshee and squeaky mouse - they're like training your dogs while smoking crack. Not that I've ever smoked anything, much less crack. But it's alot like what I'd imagine training a dog on crack would be like. So I'm trying to just say no to myself.

I digress. I finally saw a HUGE lightbulb moment (and all I was looking for was really small changes) when I was flanking him between the sheep and the fence and finally got him relaxed enough to stop just before he went between the sheep and the fence. The sheep shifted slightly and moved a little bit away from the fence. I asked him to take a few more steps in and stop again. His eyes got soft and I could see the tension ease. It was like he was saying, "Ohhhhhhh! That felt pretty good. Maybe I will try that again!". After a few times of that he started relaxing there, and instead of busting through he started going through thoughtfully. After I moved us back out away from the fence he was relaxed going around out in the open also.

Staying near the pressure I asked him to flank back and forth between me and the sheep while not being on the fence - and he began to relax little by little, rewarding him with some fetches. My praising him seems to result in a victory grab so I couldn't communicate with him that way. So I interspersed the fence work and the more open work with an occasion to drive or fetch, and I could actually see him relaxing.

Every so often I'd walk over there and stroke him, and then send him around the sheep. The first few times I did that he was pretty wound up, but he was beginning to accept working with me, and that I wasn't the enemy but there to help him. It wasn't perfect, and I had to pick and choose what I'd accept and what I wouldn't. But still, we made some measurable progress this weekend. I'll be interested to see where we are this week. I might have to do it all over again. Then again I might not. I think part of what he needs is just (as Julie suggested this weekend) doing this stuff over and over and over until it begins to be humdrum.

This dog training thing - it's hard. I train MY dogs, but I'm not a dog trainer. In some ways I wonder if it's even harder to train one's own dogs - there's too much riding on it, as if it almost matters too much. Maybe years from now when I'm all old and leathery and am on my millionth dog or something I'll be able to be less critical of myself, my dogs, and my own abilities. Maybe.

Oh, and one more thing. The word from Sandy's dealership is that the fireball didn't do any more extensive damage other than that one fuse in the dash. Whew!

Photo by Robin French

Sunday, October 4, 2009

GREAT BALLS OF FIRE!!

Friday night I managed to rook Sandy, Pam, and Julie into meeting me at La Bamba Mexican Restaurant not too far from my house for dinner. Last week was a long week, and I thought we all could use some girl time. So we met, drank, ate, and were merry. We laughed a lot (as is usual) and then all headed home. I'd had something called "Swamp Water" and while I was OK walking to the car, at one point I'd not been feeling much pain.

Sandy's car wouldn't start. She tried calling several people, none of whom were interested in leaving at 9pm to come help her in a dark parking lot, so (insert hero music here) I came to the rescue. Or something. I pulled out this little rescue kit I had in the back of the van, and pulled out the jumper cables - aka POS fire bringers.

We had to talk a blond chick who was even blonder than Sandy and I into moving her vehicle so I could pull up next to Sandy. Did I mention I'm not in charge of these things? I'm not in charge. I get in. I turn the key. I expect it to work. On occasion I can even add a fluid (although I used to run my Mustang on 1 quart of oil only... habitually). But I'm SO not in charge of these things. Neither is Sandy. Yet there we were, in a parking lot at 9pm with a rescue kit.

So she and I stumbled through the jumper cable hookup - and we thought we had them hooked up right. I was patting myself on the back as I stepped away from her car. "Who's Ya Daddy!" was what I was screaming in my head as I headed over to my van when suddenly a gigantic ball of fire shot past my ear! I saw sparks and Sandy's car alarm started SCREAMING and the lights started flashing. I almost peed myself. I ran over to my car and (amidst prayers of "Please, Lord, don't let me get electrocuted") and yanked one of the wires off of my battery, and it all went quiet.

Sandy and I stood there and just stared at each other. Apparently we'd put them on wrong. I'd just colored my hair earlier, and my first thought was, "That dang ball of fire better not have messed up my hair!" followed closely by, "OMFG, I hope we didn't just kill our cars dead. Are we dead? No, I don't think we're dead, but I'll bet we've fried our cars! Oh {insert expletive here}".

So what do you do when you're not in charge of vehicles and happen to have almost exploded one or two of them? You call my brother, which is probably what I should have done FIRST.

Jeremy (my younger brother by 3-1/2 years) came up there and discerned that the battery was dead, and that we'd blown at least one fuse with our "antics". I think I heard something about "hair brained" but he seemed to be more amused than anything. He put some aluminum foil into the fuse (don't ask me... remember, I'm not in charge of these things) and Sandy and I ran out to Advance Auto to get her a new battery. We were doing all of this in the parking lot, in the dark, with nothing but two screwdrivers, a pair of vice grips, and a sheet of aluminum foil from the restaurant. Jeremy replaced the battery and rigged up the fuse, and off we went. Well, sortof.

We found out in short order that while we could get Sandy cranked she had no acceleration. Because she couldn't get across traffic to the left he took her right - which would mean going up a gigantic hill to get her to my house. Did I mention she had no acceleration? We managed somehow to get her to my Mother's house, and when she stepped out of the car she was practically shaking.

I mean, who wouldn't be? I take her out for dinner and her car won't start, a ball of fire screams out past our heads, and then she can't go more than 5 mph on a street where people drive the Indy 500.

I will say this... it's funny how a gigantic ball of fire whizzing past one's head will induce sobriety in 0.6 seconds.

Somehow we managed to laugh our way through the night, and I got her over to her Mom's where she borrowed a car to get home. Sandy's husband got her up and running yesterday, but he thinks one more fuse needs to be replaced - one he couldn't quite get to under the dash. We're hopeful that replacing that last fuse will make everything OK. So today Sandy, Julie, Kelly and I are going over to Rising Meadow Farm to wander around their Farm Fest. I'm planning to pump Sandy full of lamb-burgers and ice cream in hopes that she'll still be my BFF after the Great Ball of Fire.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Things I Learned Last Weekend

Things I Learned Last Weekend:

1. Paper money does not stay put in my back pockets but I'll take it however I can get it.

2. Sheep that jump over my dog and into a sorting pen that they don't belong in while flattening another sheep and knocking a gate completely down get caught and bodily thrown back out to where they belong by yours truly. I am such a brute. That annoys me, and it's rude. Note to sheep: Just Don't Do It. (was that the world's longest run-on sentence?)

3. Ants like cupcakes. For reals. RIP precious cupcakes.

4. I can back between two narrowly placed trees TWICE in one weekend and not hit them. In fact, I didn't hit anything with my vehicle all weekend long. This must be some sort of record.

5. It is actually possible to over-inflate an air mattress.

6. Dry socks are a gift from God.

7. It is a long way from the bottom to the top at Robin's when you're trying to run up the hill looking a bit like an overstuffed buffalo on crack.

8. Eventually a girl's legs get tired of stepping over gates and fences and need help from friends. It gives new meaning to the term "give me a leg up".

Ok, so I was going to list ten things but I ran out of steam. Oh wait, I learned two important things that ARE relevant:

9. Don't pick up the pen rope unless you're going to hang onto it. Seriously.

10. When your sheep come into the shedding ring if you have one looking to run away don't let her lead off. At the very least don't turn your back on her - she is sneaky like ninja.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Whistle for a Cure SDT Recap


This past weekend was one of new beginnings for the dogs and I. Nick and I both had a first - our first Open trial together, and it was Nick's Open debut! It was Linc's trialing debut in Pro-Novice. Surprisingly the fact that I was busier than a one-armed paper hanger working maybe accounted for the fact that I never even thought of throwing up on my shoes. I know, another first, right?

The trial field was great - Robin has spent weeks clearing out trees and brush, and has made it much more open and easier to see. The course wasn't terribly long - but it was challenging. The first day of Open a good bit of the fetch was blind, which was rather cool. The sheep were very good I thought - and though it was quite a mixture of hair sheep and wool sheep from two flocks, they worked pretty well for the most part while being a challenge as well. Nick and I traded off with Julie setting out and doing penwork along with the help from Denise, Peggy, Sandy and Dan. They were AWESOME - thank you guys! I think maybe I even prefer working up top - it's fun for me. It keeps me from obsessing and worrying, and it makes Nick happy.

We raised almost as much money this year as we did last year for Ovarian Cancer research as part of our friend Joan's team. She is such a special person that it's an honor to be a part of this and support not only the research but her too.

I'm not going to give a blow by blow of every step that was taken (I'm still too tired for that), but I'll give a decent recount if I can. Nick's first Open run he did everything I EVER asked of him and then some. He was sharp, thoughtful, listening well, and held it together really well. I was pleased to see him holding some of the lines on his own. His drive was a thing of beauty - only losing two points. Going into the shedding ring we'd only lost 12 or 13 pts. Unfortunately we wound up losing a ewe to the exhaust on a missed shed (totally my fault - I turned my back on her and she was GONE), and I retired because I couldn't see what was going on.

Dang. Shedding sure is a lot harder when you're doing it than when you're watching it. Oh yeah baby, I'm a darned good armchair shedder. In real time? Not so much. Yet. It's a lot harder to do the first time under the gun than it is just out in a pasture alone. When it's just me, my dog, the sheep, and no pressure we're like shedding fools. In the ring? Hah. For that matter there's a lot more pressure in general - there's a lot more to think about running in Open. There's a lot more that's expected and needed from the dog, and I cannot imagine how anyone could make breeding decisions when they've never gotten out of the novice classes. Open is a whole new ballgame. But really, that's another discussion. We're just at the beginning of our journey.

Our second run wasn't nearly as pretty - it took me until partly through the drive away to get ahold of Nick. By that point he had been setting out and pushing out the day before - and was quite full of himself. He buggered the sheep a bit starting his drive (and OK, on the fetch too) and was overflanking and winging around. I finally got his attention, and after that his drive was good. Fortunately the sheep were forgiving of his buggering and settled right down. I made a few novice flubs also - but we got around. We timed out in the shedding ring this time. Denise had given me some much appreciated advice (thank you Denise) after our shed the day before, so I was considering this as I went into the ring this time. I was disappointed to not have time to put it into action, but at least I was *thinking* about it. We got a score though! It wasn't a great score, but it WAS a score.

So YAY! We got a score at our first Open trial. That's not what I aspire to forever, but for the first one - with my first dog... I'm happy. Satisfied? No. Happy? Yes. I won't be satisfied to *just* get a score forever. But for today I'm floating.

Linc's Pro-Novice run was better than I expected. He gave me far more than I expected him to. I've been having a little trouble of late with him hesitating on his outruns. I was worried that this would be an issue... or that I might possibly find him hanging off a sheep on the way down the field. When he feels pressure from me he gets a little wiggy at the moment. I set him up to go left, and to my surprise he went like a champ.

He was a *tad* tight going out, but he kicked out and landed beautifully behind the sheep. He took his down whistle - dropped like a stone. The fetch was a tad off line (just barely missing the panels) but I finally convinced him to fix it after the panels. After the turn at the post there were two sheep bound and determined to head off towards the left. Two sheep were online going where I wanted, but I think he was afraid if he let off the pressure they would bolt up the hill. The two determined to go towards the goat yard were *really* determined, and I could see Linc getting wound tighter and tighter. I retired at that point - I felt like he was in way over his head. All in all I was more than pleased with him.

So it might not have been the most successful trial ever as far as scores go, but dang if my dogs and I didn't learn a lot. I was awful proud of both of them. Nick worked literally *all* weekend up top, and he held up physically and mentally - and still he wanted more.

Now we look ahead to the Lexington SDT in October. I missed the opening date of Jan Thompson's trial so won't be heading up there unfortunately. I'm disappointed, but maybe I should try paying attention. I'm tossing around the possibility of seeing if we can get in to run at Rural Hill since it's so close. That will probably be it for us and trials this year.

Later on I'll have a list of "Things I Learned Last Weekend".

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Strange

People say strange things sometimes. I should know, because I know I say strange things on a pretty regular basis. Today I gave my cell phone number to a guy who has been doing a good bit of my trucking lately (at work). His response? "Ok, I'm writing it in my book this time, and I promise I won't use it to drunk dial you."

A man after my own heart... irrelevant, irreverant, out in left field, slightly odd and off topic. Maybe he SHOULD drunk dial me. Then again, I've never seen him in person, and those types of things can go very badly. The other day he said something about not being married. I wonder if he's hitting on me? That would be strange too. I would hate to see myself show up in a blog on PLFM.

Lastly, and completely off topic... I'm going to be doing some SERIOUS puppy squishying this weekend. The Chris/Zac puppies are coming for a slumber party at Auntie Laura's house while Julie and Robin are at Don McCaig's. Sadly I didn't get my entry in before he closed the open entries, so I'm opting to be sufficiently puppified instead. Yum! Puppies, all for ME!!! Then I get to send them home again, which seems just perfect.

While I'm at it this weekend I think I'm going to go harrass said defectees' sheep while they're gone. Linc desperately needs some practical stuff. I worked him this past weekend and saw some of the fall-out from the issues the weekend before. I think it's a minor bump in the road, so this weekend I'm planning to spend one day at Robin's place putting here sheep here, there, and beyond. It'll be good for him, and it'll be activity points for me because the four-wheeler scares me. Nick worked nicely for me - and I'm to work on more whistle, less voice, and more proactive handling. We can do that.

Oh, and for a quick itchy rash update... I think I finally turned a small corner. I think it has phased back into the land of the bearable until gone. Please, oh Lord, please go on and take it away. Maybe I should drop this livestock thing and plan to raise something less inclined to lay in things I'm allergic to... like garden gnomes... and goldfish.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Slackin and Slummin

Slackin and slummin over here. Sorry! It's been crazy around here, and I'm just sort of hanging on by my fingernails at the moment.

What have we been up to? Nick's all healed up from his neuter, but I didn't get to work him as I'd like due to his feet being softened somewhat by his layup. Hopefully he'll be good to go tomorrow. Last weekend Linc and I ironed out some issues working sheep in tight spaces, and dealing with the pressures there appropriately. We had some rough moments but I think we got it all squared away.

Also (insert whiney voice here) I'm partially covered by an itchy rash coming from an unidentifiable substance obtained from an unidentifiable place. I seriously want to claw my own eyes out. That being said I finally went to the organic co-op here and am getting a bit of relief.

Last week my air conditioner went out, and bless my Ex-Husband for fixing it for me. It appears that we're going to have some sort of friendship now, and while I'm not sure exactly how I feel about that (and I'm a tad leary) I'm glad to have some sort of open communication with him.

I'll be loading up the dogs early tomorrow morning and heading up to Robin's to work dogs, hang out, and prepare for her trial end of this month. I'm hoping to give Linc a chance to lengthen out his outrun tomorrow... cuz he's running Pro-Novice and Nursery at Robin's WFAC trial this month. I've also entered him to run Nursery in Lexington, VA end of next month. Nick will be running Open at both - and we'll be helping up top (either in the pens or setting sheep) at Robin's trial. So we've got a few fun things coming up.

Robin's WFAC trial is to raise funds to support our friend Joan Stout-Knight in raising money for Ovarian Cancer Research. You can get an entry form by going to http://www.sheepdogsonline.com/entry.doc . As it turns out we'll be running Open as well as the novice classes. They'd be thrilled to have any donations or in-spirit entries, so please consider getting involved in some way. We had a ball last year, and I think we will this year also!

The rescue Chi thing didn't work out because the owner of the dog refused to relinquish her when the time came. She still (the dog) shows up in my yard every few days doing zoomies and begging me to play with her (which I do). I feel awful for the wee one - I think it's possible they're intending to breed her (based on their belief that she should be bred before spayed, ick) and so on. It makes me sick to my stomach.

At any rate, hopefully I'll have good updates to report on Linc's work this weekend. I suspect I'm going to take him out there and be surprised and pleased with him. He's a good boy. Happy Labor Day everyone!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Junia Petunia the Lure Coursing Queen


(Photo by Robin French)
This week Julie and I crammed a bunch of dogs into her van and took them Lure Coursing. June may not be a very good sheepdog, but she is the Lure Coursing Queen!!! Holy Cow. This dealio was a fundraiser and was $5 per run. I took Linc and June but as it turned out we ran out of daylight so only June (and Pip, Phoebe, and Lark) got to run. Pip, Phoebe and Lark were at a bit of a disadvantage being their first time, but June was... probably the most in her element as I've ever seen her. June doesn't CARE if she brings it back. Oh no. She just wants to chase it. She's HAPPY to chase it. She might have flunked out as a sheepdog but if there was a job in life for her to chase a plastic baggie she'd be my go to dog. It cracks me up to see her ears become PRICK and she's OFF!!!

I've actually been feeling rather guilty because June doesn't get much in the way of work these days. Then again she doesn't really want it anyway. On the occasion that she seems to want to work I'll take her out, but most of the time she's just happy holding down the couch and catching an occasional disc. It made my heart all happy to see her lure course though. There was a guy there who might be starting up a club and if it's not too costly I might see about getting her involved. She'd love it.

What else? We worked on Linc's flank commands last weekend. Whooeee! Good dog - he was getting more than I thought. I haven't had a chance to work him this week, but hopefully will this weekend. That's the other downside to the economy - I'm blessed with friends nearby that let me come work my dogs - but not the gas $$ to do so as I wish I could.

Some of you saw me mention a little rescue Chihuahua on Facebook the other day (from my Neighbor's house), and it looks like I've got it worked out for her. She's absolutely adorable, and I really think she's going to make someone a fabulous little dog. I've coordinated with Chihuahua Rescue and Transport in NC/SC to get her into rescue, and it looks like I'll be fostering her. I'll probably post some pictures - if the little gal will slow down long enough. She's wide open, and just as sweet as she can be. Updates to follow soon, I'm sure.

Last thing - Nick gets his staples out tonight. It looks like his (neuter) incision is healed, and I'll talk to my vet about getting him back into shape to possibly run him at Don McCaig's. He's been on crate rest for almost three weeks now trying to get this thing healed. I think he'll be happy to get that colander off of his head.

Dude, I should get some pictures of that.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Attitude Adjustment


I need an attitude adjustment. Nick is getting one - via the great testicle exodus and now I need one to deal with HIS attitude adjustment. So far what should have been a simple procedure has been a PITA - to the tune of regluing, stapling, and so on. I think he's finally on the road to recovery though, but it's been a long drawn out disaster. Well, maybe disaster is too strong of a word. Mess. Between incisions that don't want to hold and blah blah blah it's just... ugh. My work situation has taken quite the turn for the worse, and while I'm quite grateful to have a job... still it sucks. So yeah, I need an attitude adjustment. I suppose I've not felt much like blogging while trying to slog through some of my life lately.

Linc, on the other hand, is being such a good boy right now that it makes me smile (see? attitude adjustment). These pictures are by Dan King who graced us last weekend with his really fun presence. Linc is a driving fool right now - and while his stop is suffering slightly it does my heart good to see him taking control, motoring along, and holding the lines pretty well all on his small bustle-butted own. I'm able to do most practical things with him - which is good given that Nicky boy is on the disabled list at the moment.



Thanks to Dan for this pic - it's beautiful. I found out this past weekend that Linc can hold sheep. I wasn't sure he could - but he did a nice job of it. Actually I wasn't sure he could let them go, but he seems to "get it". I do believe we're going to get along quite nicely. This weekend unless something more pressing rears it's head I'm going to try to see if I can proof Linc's flank commands. He seems to mostly have them, but I'd like just a little more (and lets face it - life would be easier with flank commands).

It's also been fun over at Julie's squishying puppies with Julie and Robin. See? Attitude adjustment. Something about puppies just makes my heart get all mushy. Having Dan (and of course Julie, Robin, and the other lesson folks too) around always makes for fun times, so a good attitude adjustment also.

What else has been up lately? Well, I got sent on a weekend trip to Asheville, NC to entertain one of our vendors two weekends ago. I got to see Biltmore again with fresh eyes, and drank entirely too much, ate entirely too much, but had a BALL. I got to stay in a hotel room, and didn't pick up a single dog turd for three days. That was more fun than I can really handle, so while in some ways it was good to get away it was also stressful to have to farm out dogs on a moment's notice and go be so... social. But hey... I'm evidently a little fun to be around according to the vendor, and the trip was a huge success. I managed to not get tattooed while there. That too was a big success.

So this weekend I'm going to play FarmTown on Facebook (yeah, OK, so I have a serious FarmTown problem), hang with the girls, and try to relax a little. I need it. Maybe later next week I'll have something to say.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Two Dogs, a Girl, and a Bicycle

I figure one of the things I'm going to have to work hard at (living in the city and all) with regards to Nick running Open is keeping him in condition. So, I've borrowed my little sister's all-terrain bike with the grand idea of keeping him in shape by us biking together. Well, more like me biking, him trotting/loping. A few months ago we went... once. I took him to a large grassy football field and patiently (and sweatily) taught him what was expected. We were quite the well-oiled (if slow) machine.

It's now July and I haven't been much for doing this conditioning my dog thing with a bicycle. So yesterday I got the bright idea to take not only Nick, but also Linc who'd never even seen a bicycle in his small black dog curly coated bustle-butt life. I drove us all three down to this small park that we refer to as "The Squeaky Swings" in my family because, as you can guess, it has squeaky swings. It also has a long, wide and paved bike path running through it. I was thinking that it would be easier if I could ride on the pavement and they could run in the grass.

I also thought that using a coupler was a great idea.

I unloaded the bike, and then pulled the dogs out and strapped them onto the coupler thingie. I untangled myself (uh yeah, we'd taken maybe five steps) and we figured out the "walking beside the bike" thing.

About this time two other people show up with their dogs, and it appears that one of them is reactive. Nick decided that if THAT dog was going to bark maybe he should too. Did I mention I was already trying to ride the stupid bike at this point? I was. We were... sort of like some kind of Fred Flinstone Reject Crazy Biking Fiasco Crew. Within short order I had the coupler wrapped around someone, the leash wrapped twice around Linc's belly with him on one side of the bike, Nick on the other, and the leash wrapped somehow around the front fender.

I believe my legs were caught in there somewhere too.

I dismounted all the while screaming "Lie Down" like a banshee at my dogs. As if they could lie down being all tangled up like that. I untangled us and parked the bike, walking past the other couple murmuring the mantra of "I've got to get rid of this filth coupler" like some sort of apology.

I will say that separate leashes worked better. Strange how one pass past the other couple and they mysteriously disappeared. Maybe it was me shrieking like a demented fishwife "What the filth are you doing? Get the filth and more filth back on the other side of the filth bike you little filther". Or mayhaps it was the deep growly corrections of "What are you doing?" followed by my inept attempt to use their stock commands to control this runaway freight train of a biking experience? "Lie!" "Get OUT" "Steady now you little filther or you're going to pull me off of this filth bike". I'm sure my steady stream of sailor talk probably didn't help out their reactive dog by much.

The more annoyed I got the closer to me Nick got - at one point trying to climb up in my lap while we were stopped. Linc, on the other hand seemed to think this was GREAT fun. Even more fun? Slamming on brakes (the dogs, that is) to sniffies a bush. Not so fun for the screaming breaks and screaming girl on the bike. Strangely enough I knew intellectually that Linc hadn't done this before and therefore deserved a break. That little piece of information seemed irrelevant every time the blighter ran in front of me and crossed over to the other side of the bike (thus almost throwing me off).

We did finally get it figured out and managed to look reasonably suave - about the time I was ready to load them back up. They actually seemed to have a good time. I do think Linc would prefer it if I let him run on the right side though.

I really should buy a helmet. Knee pads and elbow pads wouldn't hurt too. I have some gigantor black marks on my legs, but other than that we're not much worse for wear. Maybe we'll go back and try it again... you know... 'cuz I have nothing better to do than risk all of our lives on a regular basis.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Headlines Irk Me

Seriously? Last night I read a news headline on AOL's scroll thingie that said, "Heisman Winner Says He's a Virgin" with a subtitle to say that he's waiting to get married. That just might land at the top of the list of stupid irrelevant personal information related headlines that annoy me to no end. It's not only the fact that they have to point out that he's a virgin (as if that's all that terribly newsworthy or unusual) but that they are doing an ARTICLE on it just seems to make it more ridiculous. As if it's SO surprising that a person might actually be a virgin today, and that his being so makes it newsworthy. Oh, no, wait, the fact that he's a HEISMAN winner would make it newsworthy. Wouldn't it?

I didn't read the article by the way. I might would feel the need to tempt the obviously misguided virgin football dude. Not.

While I'm at it, why is it that most headlines have to include "Woman" or "Gay" or "Lesbian" or "Black" or in this case"Virgin"? What, is it not newsworthy to just say THIS PERSON did this? I'm just not sure why someone's race, sexual orientation, or even lack of sex has to do with anything? I'm not talking about headlines such as "First Black President" - you know, I wouldn't want to take away anything whatsoever from the accomplishment of President Obama, or anyone else marking new territory for their particular group, OK? But seriously - there is a difference between race (or whatever) being a significant and important part of the story, and it not. I suppose it's human nature to look for the sensationalism, and the different. But still, it just makes me feel all crunchy.

It reminds me of when I was a kid and I'd tell my father I had a new boyfriend. First words out of his mouth were always, "Well. Is he white?". I always wondered what that had to do with anything? Other than his own prejudices (and upbringing, of course) I mean.


Besides, I don't recall seeing a headline to say, "Heterosexual and Monogamous Married White Male with Blond Hair and Two Legitimate Children is Elected to the Supreme Court".

It just... irks me.

Rant over.

Addition to Headlines that Irk Me

http://ncaafootball.fanhouse.com/2009/07/23/tim-tebow-says-hes-still-a-virgin-saving-himself-for-marriage/

This is the article in question (sorry, I can't remember how to embed the link, duh). I said I wasn't going to read it, and I did. Now I wish I hadn't as it's rather mocking. I say good for you Tim Tebow (and Dude, you can play) - stay strong man.

Why don't we talk about his Mad Footballz Skillz instead?

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Lamb Taco Salad

This is what was for dinner last night... lamb taco salad. In all honesty it was *supposed to be* lamb tacos (but when I picked up the tacos they fell apart, and thus a taco salad was born. It really didn't matter though - I was shooting from the hip on this one. Plus it's been a while since I've done a recipe, right?

Lamb Taco Salad

Filling Ingredients:

1 lb ground lamb (I used cull ewe)
1/2 small green pepper (about the equiv. of 1/4 of a pepper from the store)
1 small jalopeno seeded and diced
1/4 onion
1 garlic clove
1/2 to 1 cup ff beef broth
4 oz tomato sauce
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp rosemary
1 tsp coriander
pinch of crushed red pepper
salt and pepper to taste

Stuff:

2 Tbsp reduced fat shredded cheese
4 Tsp light or FF sour cream
a few handfulls lettuce or spinach (I used spinach)
1/2 cup diced tomatoes, fresh
4-8 small corn tortillas (1 to 2 per serving)
salsa if desired

In a skillet (sprayed with cooking spray) brown lamb with pepper, onion and jalopeno. About two minutes before draining add garlic. Drain any fat. Add spices and stir to toast for about a minute. Add beef stock to deglaze the pan, and then add the tomato sauce. Simmer for about 15 to 20 mins.

To make salads tear up one to two tortillas into bite sized pieces and pile on a plate. Top with about 3/4 to 1 cup of taco filling, 1/2 Tbsp cheese, diced tomatoes, 1 tsp sour cream, and lettuce.

Yields 4 servings - 6 pts per serving. Cheese and sour cream could be increased if using fat free as opposed to reduced fat. The lamb I used was so lean that my guess would be this was more like 5 pts realistically. Bear in mind I often cook by "feel" or "look" so most of this stuff is just tossed in according to how it looks to me (ie spice measurements and such are an estimate). Lean ground turkey or chicken could easily be substitued for the lamb.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Airs Above the Ground

Airs Above the Ground... aka Shedding with Cheviots.


Some days we all feel like that, Nick.

Robin took these yesterday while we were doing a wee bit of shedding. You can see his lip is still wrinkled on this second shot. I had no idea they were taking pictures until the peanut gallery started howling with laughter. She decided to try to bolt about the time I started calling him through. Silly girl to think of such a thing.

Nick was looking good yesterday - having a ball with this shedding thing. Linc looked really good - he's digging this driving thing. I think the practical work of last week was a really good thing for Linc and I - the "we are a team" thing has done wonders for him. For that matter it's done wonders for me too - it helped me to feel like I could relax and trust him more. He got to work his way through gathering a small group of lambs (with one crazy cheviot ewe) up in the woods and deep grass - and we worked together to basically thread them through an opening in the pens that was like threading a needle. Good stuff - it wasn't easy but good experience for us both.

I don't know if dogs (like Nick) get pouty when the human chooses to use another dog instead of them - but the idea is to use Linc for as much practical stuff as I can get for him. Nick's been my right hand since... well... since about the time I got a stop on him. It feels weird to leave him sitting while I pull out Linc - and I'll admit to a tiny bit of guilt. However, he doesn't appear to be offended, so I'm not sure that dogs reason like that.

It's interesting the differences in these dogs. It's a fascinating journey where often I find myself just hanging on by my fingernails at best. I'm sure enjoying the ride though!

Photos by Robin French

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

3 Good Years


Happy Birthday to the Noodlehead (ignore the time stamp). It's been 3 good years, and we've been through a lot together. Interestingly enough we share a birthday, so yesterday Nick turned three, and I turned... a year older.


I'll never forget the day Julie called to say that Twist had had MY puppy. She'd already picked him out for me, and I was in love with him after he'd been on the earth less than 24 hours. Oh, I tried to pick out a second and third favorite, but he was always mine. He still is, and I am his too. I don't think anyone could have picked a better 'first dog' for me. He has taught me so much and continues to do so. He's the type of dog that I can turn my back on and trust that he'll do the right thing.

Happy Third Birthday Nick!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Farm Sitting Fun

The Crazies and I have been farm-sitting since Friday, and as usual lots of fun things have been happening. First thing is I've been on CVIS detail for a few days (Cow Vagina Inspection Services). That's my new designation for following a cow around looking for signs of iminent calving. She finally had that calf yesterday so I can relax a bit now. Gotta watch em - these girlz are a bit sneaky about calving... they like to hide their calves in the tall grass. Her calf looks good - nice and healthy, and I think it's a heiffer. Why am I not entirely sure? That would be because she lowered her head and started blowing at me, and I decided that knowing the sex of the calf was suddenly FAR less important at that point.

I didn't have a dog with me either. So I was satisfied to see that it was up (albeit a bit wobbly) and nursing heartily. Mamma cow can take it from there I'm sure. She's very attentive, and the calf seems nice and strong.

Yesterday I used Linc to sort off a few of the yearling ewes to work. These sheep have become very heavy to work so I was trying to get an appropriate group together. My idea was a small group of yearlings to lighten things up a bit.

Linc was a driving machine yesterday. They were a good group, and he really likes to get in back there and motor them along. Things were going well until this one ewe took a belly flop into the creek. I helped her out, and didn't think much about it until she managed to throw herself into a thicket of thorns next (split herself off, and then when Linc went to cover she CRAMMED herself into the thorns). I raised an eyebrow, and after many scrapes, cuts, and bruises Linc and I finally got her out. After that she laid down - and I came to the conclusion that she wasn't feeling well (initially I thought she was just being difficult).

I checked her color and she was pale as a sheet. We were finished anyway so I left her there with her friends and went back to put Linc up and get Nick. We had them in the field WAY up in front of the property... probably a half a mile or more back to the barn. I thought to myself, "oh dang... I'm going to have to carry her." The field is too rough for my minivan, and there wasn't any sort of golf cart or four wheeler for me to use.

Fortunately by the time I got back and sent Nick out there she was up, and he gently brought them back around. I hit her with Cydectin and some NutriDrench, and went in search of some iron dextrose and Vit B complex. There was none there that was usable, so today I picked up some Vitamin B complex, and will be heading down to Julie's to borrow some Iron Dextrose (after work today). This morning I pulled this ewe up into the barn with her lambs, and when I get back tonight I'm pulling them out (she's almost dried up - and they need more nutrition and she doesn't need them pulling on her... and it's pretty much time to wean anyway) and giving her a new friend. I'll also probably hit her with some Valbazen too.

So it turns out that she's one of the ewes (unbeknownst to me) that had bottlejaw a few weeks ago. Poor girl.

So I mentioned I picked up some Vitamin B Complex, right? Today, my friends, TODAY is the day I bleated at a retail person. I walked in and some youthically challenged guy pounced on me as soon as I came through the door offering to help me. The conversation went a little bit like this:

Me: "I am looking for Vitamin B Complex"
Old Dude: "For What?"
Me: "Sheep"
Old Dude: "What?? For WHAT??"
Me: "Sheep."
Old Dude: dumbfounded look
Me: "Sheep. Baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa! Sheep!!!"

Insert childish giggle here.

Old Dude: "Oh. What are you using it for?" (this asked in an accusing tone)
Me: "I have a ewe with bottlejaw and she needs it"
Old Dude: dumbfounded look
Old Dude: "What is it?"
Me: "Vitamin B Complex... it's in injectible form"

From there we went to the dumbass of the month section. Er, I mean to the uh... whatever. He wobbled over to the fridge, and I chirped, "It should be kept at room temperature, so it won't be in the fridge". Yeah, OK princess smartypants. He rummaged and looked around some, and finally walked off mumbling something about finding someone to help me. I chirped (yet again) "Thank you!" as I walked over behind him, plucked the vial off the shelf (that was right in front of him) and headed to the register.

Today, my friends, is the day that I bleated at a retail person.

I might need an attitude adjustment.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Breezy Hill SDT


It was a weekend of ups and downs at the Breezy Hill SDT for us. We had a bit of trouble managing our way around the course this time - mostly doing well until we hit the drive away panels and then having trouble managing the draws to the setout and then the pond.

Saturday Nick ran out nicely and looked like he was stopping short - but the sheep lifted dead on. On his fetch he opted to put himself out to the side and to hold the line on his own - with only a few steady and stop whistles. We had a jog at the post, but then started the drive away. His drive away was about as beautiful as I could have asked for - dead straight, and straight through the panels. When I went to flank him he refused it - my guess would be knowing the pressure of the setout. Unfortunately this gave the sheep the message that they could get away from him. We managed to get it together for part of the crossdrive, but when the sheep got to the cross drive panels they bolted for the pond, and we didn't catch up until they were out of bounds.

We managed to retire and get DQ'd in the same breath. LOL!

Sunday Nick's sheep left before he got there (same thing happened in the run before ours, and the two after us) but he covered nicely and brought them down the field even prettier than the day before (we only lost two points on our fetch). We turned the post nicely, and had a nice quiet drive away. We were a bit off line late into the drive away, and missed the panels due to my being too conservative with flanking him to the away side (left hand drive) because I was anticipating that danged turn. He hesitated slightly to take his come bye flank but took it better this time. The sheep were already bolting towards the setout - but we caught them. Missed the cross drive panels but this time managed to catch the sheep before they could get away. The cross drive wasn't pretty, but we didn't lose the sheep. His line back to the pen was nice once we got them online. I pushed a sheep out of the mouth of the pen but we got them in on the second try - but not without some hard work on our parts.

So Sunday we got a score, albeit not very high - to land us about in the middle of the pack. I was super pleased with Nick for electing to not bugger the sheep at the top or on the fetch, and happy to see him put himself out there to hold the line. I need some work on helping him manage sheep that are dealing with strong draws, but I felt like I learned a lot.

It was cool to be thinking about how to handle these situations better - as opposed to just thinking about "I hope we get the sheep to our feet" or something like that. So... good times. Oh, and we tent camped. It occurs to me that the mystery of tent camping has worn off. I'd prefer the mystery of indoor plumbing or a travel trailer. Oh well, it is what it is - and I'm really grateful to be able to just GO.

Robin and Billy won Open Ranch and second place with Zac in Open on Saturday. Julie won Open one day with Twist, and then the other day with Kat. It was a good weekend for friends!

We'll be farm-sitting over the next week, so fun times ahead. We'll have sheep and cattle at our disposal, and plenty of room to walk and goof off too. If I can remember I'll take my camera with me and do some updates too - but I can't promise. It'll be a little bit like a mini-vacation for us. The person I'm sitting for only has one dog right now - that's like... weird. I'm used to my five plus anywhere from six to fourteen dogs.
In case I don't get near a computer in all of the upcoming flurry - Happy Independence Day everyone!
photo by Dan King

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

We Are Not Amused


This is a very bad picture of Ginger as of last night at 5:25 P.M. I decided a week ago that maybe I'd start trying to shave her down myself. The above coat is only a partial coat for her - it gets another inch or two longer if I let it. So armed with my new clippers last night I tied her to the oven door (yes, seriously), sat on the kitchen floor and went to it.

Did I mention that I've never shaved another living being before? Well, other than my ex-husband's head and only once at that... if that tells you anything. Well, and then there's a few passes on a sheep here and there - not fabulous, and never have I done an entire sheep with clippers.

I happen to think Ginger looks pretty good - she's pretty smooth and seriously less hairy. Her legs are not as smooth as I'd like - that part was VERY tricky. She was good though - apparently she knows the drill because when I'd get ready to do a certain part she'd lift things up for me. Cracked ME up. She, however, is not amused.


Not. Amused.


Still not amused. I think the bath in the cactus somethingorother doggie shampoo may have made her feel less amused.


Nick, on the other hand is very amused.

Actually she feels mucho better - she's been doing zoomies in the living room this morning and prancing around like a spring chicken. But for some reason every time I pull out a camera at lunch she gets a bit grumpy. She forgives me though.
Breezy Hill SDT updates to follow later - I had to share the Turd's new 'Do first!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Friends, Dogs, and the Week Coming Up



Friday night Dan King came over to Julie's to hang for a couple of days, and while here he got some pics of the Noodlehead (including the header photo). Actually, that's Twist in the above picture - Nick was down the field bringing the sheep back up for Julie & Twist to hold out for Kelly & Jen. It was early, and I was desperate for coffee. Obviously. Robin came over too - and we had a good day of friends and dog working... and the Backyard Grille.

I think the best part was getting to hang with good friends all weekend long! Julie, Robin, Kelly, Dan and I all converged to work dogs on Saturday, and then Julie, Dan and myself on Sunday too. Saturday night I met up with Sandy & Pam for movie night - and I had a lot of great sober fun! Did I mention there was lots of food involved? There was lots of food involved. To top off the weekend Julie and I went to the Farmer's Market late yesterday and came back with lots of yummy vegetables that probably won't last past today.

Anyway, Dan is stupid smart and has all sorts of mad skillz I'd have never guessed. Not only that - but he's a really nice, funny guy. He also agreed to crop my behind out of any pictures, which makes him even nicer in my mind. So here are a few Noodlehead shots:







There's more but Blogger isn't being very cooperative this morning and I've finally run slap out of patience. Between my computer at home crapping out, the archaic one I've borrowed in the interim being... well... archaic, and Blogger being uncooperative I'm technologically frustrated today.

Saturday Robin helped me to help Nick to figure out how to deal more effectively with heavy sheep. Then yesterday the sheep were very willing to split so we managed to get some good shedding practice in. I've tried hard not to mess with shedding sheep that don't want to split with Nick. My ineptitude at this shedding thing coupled with sheep that are clumping was a recipe for frustration for both of us - so I was thrilled to get the opportunity to work on it yesterday. One of the things that I realized while watching Julie was that I was contributing to the clumping thing by letting the sheep get right on top of me - which I worked on NOT doing yesterday. It helped. A lot.

This week promises to be insanely busy. I'm heading up to Roy Johnson's this coming weekend, and somehow between now and then I've got to get the yard done, get packed, meet two different family members for dinner (I'm trying to talk them into all of us getting together), and various other things. But this coming weekend promises to be more fun with friends and dogs, so I'm really looking forward to it. I'm excited to go back to Roy's WITHOUT the taco. It had better be a taco-free weekend.

If Blogger gets more cooperative later I'll post some more Nick pics.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Another Rambly Monday Morning

It's been an eventful but yet uneventful week (read that to say I've been busy but haven't done anything stupid enough to require rescuing). I finished cutting down those trees (the ones I could) without getting the chainsaw stuck any more, and blah blah blah. I didn't have much work for the dogs this past weekend - Linc turned up inexplicably lame on a rear leg Thursday morning, so I'm going to rest him some for good measure. That's one more bouncy dog, I'll say that.

Saturday I went over to Julie's, and she, Kelly and I spent a good bit of the day tromping around in the woods and brush looking for Maia. Maia unfortunately went missing during the storms last week, so we thought to make some passes out in the woods looking for her. Still no sign of her - but I managed to get a tick in my shoulder, a sunburn, sore feet and legs, and what may be poison ivy on my ankles. That's productive, right?

Speaking of sore feet and legs... did you know that when your behind gets too big for your feet they hurt? Your feet that is. That is the conclusion I came to this weekend. So today I signed back up to my WW online account - I can't have this. I can't stand being in pain for doing the things I want to do - particularly when it's completely avoidable. I don't really have the $$ for it right now - but I also don't have the $$ to deal with my fat behind either, and all of the health issues that come with being overweight. So there.

Yesterday I went over to help Chuck Reloaded with shearing his sheep. Tony & Mary came over, and we got them done. It wasn't all that pretty - and I have definately learned that being a shearer is not my lifetime calling. Well, at least not a shearer of hair sheep that refuse to shed (and act crazy as heck). They should feel better now though!

One of the things that I was attempting to do with my sheep (before I had to sell them) was to increase their ability to shed. I bred my ewes that first year to a 3/4 Katahdin ram - who was an excellent shedder, and his lambs shed better than their mothers (but still not very well). This year Chuck bred them to Darci's St. Croix ram - and we're hoping this year's lamb crop will do a decent job of shedding (the third generation lambs should). Time will tell - but I'd prefer to have either REALLY good shedding hair sheep, or nice wool sheep - one or the other. Not that it's my problem anymore, but still. I have opinions.

Two weeks ago I started working on fixing Nick's approach into a pasture or to the handler's post - and it's been amazing to me what a difference it's made in him. It fixed the shape of his outrun, and fixed his attitude also. I'm re-evaluating how I feel about that particular issue, because I've really learned something from this. Yeah, OK, so Robin's told me a million times, but now I SEE it since I've been working at fixing the mess I allowed to happen. See, Nick has opinions too. When he was younger he didn't have enough opinions - and he's making up for it now. Interesting how just now I'm really starting to see the holes in my training - what I need to be asking of my dogs, and things I need to be doing differently.

So it's going to be another hot and busy week, and I hope at the end of it my feet will hurt just a little bit less, because hopefully there will be less behind weighing them down.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Portrait of a Noodlehead

Kay Sander painted the above portrait of Nick from the header picture on this blog. I believe she used acrylics. I am so honored and awed by her - what a beautiful job she did! This is the prize for winning overall champion in Pro-Novice at Breezy Hill late last summer - and she brought it down with her to Robin's last weekend. I'm planning to get it framed as soon as I can, and a plaque with the information will go on it, too. How neat is that?

Speaking of Breezy Hill, I just sent my entry in to run him in Ranch there (and Nursery if they get enough dogs) at the end of this month. I've opted to keep us in Ranch for a while yet - more to get my feet under ME than anything. I'm looking forward to it.

Editor's Note: The header photo has been changed since this post.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Seriously?

Seriously? Because my life isn't fun enough. My lawnmower won't crank (and you could probably find a small child in my grass), and I now have a chainsaw (that doesn't belong to me) stuck in my tree. The limbs that have been successfully sawn down are laying in my yard, and the chainsaw is stuck in my tree. S-T-U-C-K. In my tree.

Also stuck in the tree are two leashes that I tried to use to pull the limb over to unstick the chainsaw.

I climbed up in this tree. Seriously. In the dark.

My back hurts, I'm sweating and nauseated, and I'm convinced that I have ticks all over me. I think I'll just go to bed.

Interview With an Idiot

My internet is out. Again. Well, not exactly, today it's in, but Friday night it was out. For the what, fourth or fifth time? So I called the Cable company, and had a session with the repair tech dude. Anthony. It went a little bit like this (after all of the introductory mumbo):

Anthony: Let me pull up your repair history. (fiddle click fiddle click) Ok, ma'am, you say your internet's not working?

Me: Yes sir. First let me give you some background information - this is an ongoing problem. I've been having connection problems for about a month now. I got a new modem about two weeks ago, and that didn't fix my problem. The tech was out here last week, and after checking the modem and the computer he felt sure the problem was outside in the stump - that everything in the house was OK. So he sent an outside repair crew over that next day. It worked fine for a week, and now it's out again. The cable light is off, so it appears to be completely off line again. I've tried resetting the modem about three times now, and it's still not working. I probably need to get someone out to check the repairs in the stump again.

Anthony: Is the cable light on?

Me: No sir, the cable light is off.

Anthony: Let me see if I can connect to your modem. (click, pause, fiddle, click) It appears that your modem is off line.

Me: right, that's what I said.

Anthony: Lets try resetting your modem.

Me: I've already done that. Three times. It didn't help.

Anthony: Well, you may need a new modem.

Me: Sir, this IS a new modem. I just got it two weeks ago. It's cute, too. It's a cute modem, and it's new.

Anthony: In that case I need to schedule a tech to come out and make sure that the problem isn't inside the house.

Me: I've already had a tech out, and as I said before he indicated that the problem was in the stump outside, that everything inside was working as it should. I don't see why they can't just come check outside. The tech that was out last week said the problem was signal strength - in the stump. Outside.

Anthony: We need to make an appointment to check to see that the problem isn't inside the house.

Me: Ok, fine. But seriously - this is getting old. This is seriously disrupting my social life.

It's obviously not Anthony's fault that he's an idiot and doesn't listen to what other people tell him. At that point I was banging my head against the wall and I realized he wasn't hearing anything I was telling him. I have internet again for the moment, but seriously, I'm starting to think maybe I should just turn the modem in and go to DSL. They, the phone people, appear to be slightly less idiotic. He's lucky I didn't just jump through the phone and choke him. Seriously.