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


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


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