Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Circle BR SDT - Memorial Day Weekend

I rolled up to Dr. Ben's about mid-afternoon on Saturday with five dogs, a tent, and a minivan. It was already warm and muggy, and they were unfortunately almost already finished with Open when we got there. They decided to do Jackpot Runs, so I entered Nick on a whim. Nick had never done quite such a long outrun, and we'd never worked on a terraced field. Suffice it to say that I set him up wrong, and then when he started to pull in I stopped him to redirect him - and it weirded him out. Nick's generally a pretty good outrunning dog - he typically runs wide (often wider than I'd like) and deep, and finds his sheep. Where I stopped him he couldn't see the sheep, so he was all like, "What? What? Why are you stopping me here??". Let me say... it's a long way up that hill, but it makes for some good activity points.

After that, she who shall rename nameless provided me with a Margarita flavored wine cooler to drown my hurt feelings in. Unfortunately the combination of empty stomach, a drink drunk too fast (I was bolting it down as we pulled up to the Church for dinner), dehydration, and being a lightweight to begin with yielded a slightly tipsy me. So there we were in the Church for dinner, and the judge was sitting with us - and I'd never met her before (although she's very neat) - and I was an inebriated novice handler. Bad combination. I managed to keep a lid on it (by basically shutting my trap and sitting there as quietly as I could, which wasn't easy), which was a very good thing. When we got back, however, Julie and I began to set up our tents. Fortunately Robin was nearby to rescue me, as I was stumbling over things, trying to figure out how to set up my tent.

Later that night I managed to stumble out into the woods (sans flashlight 'cuz I didn't want anyone to know I was going to potty in the woods). I fell into a hole, and then I peed on my feet. Oh yeah, good times.

It rained. It rained and rained, although there were some breaks, and when it wasn't raining it was so humid that it was impossible to ever get truly dry. I'll admit, however, that this was far preferable to the blaring sun and 98 degrees that we usually somehow wind up with. But did I mention that it rained? And that we (Julie and I) were sleeping in tents? Poor Julie's tent leaked pretty badly, so she had it even worse than I did.

Anyway, when Monday rolled around I ran Nick in Nursery and Ranch. For Nursery they set the outrun up about 2/3 of the way up the hill. I had to redirect Nick once, but he took it this time. Looked good... right up until the point where he came cranking right into the back of the sheep. He then proceeded to punish them yet a second time. It took me until he was about halfway to me before I could get ahold of him - and when I finally got him to stop the sheep started running even faster. We mostly flanked wildly and tried to keep them from running off into the sunset at that point. I was rattled, the sheep were rattled... oh but Nick was having a great time. He managed to even chest butt them when they tried to head to the exhaust.

We had our lowest score ever (although it was in fact a score). I think we managed to get two points on our drive - but I think those were mercy points. Anyway, I didn't make the connection initially to his buggering the sheep being the cause of the running (and looking back I can't say that I blame them) but Robin helped me to see that, and I developed a plan for our Ranch run.

We walked to the post in Open Ranch and I sent him to the right instead. I had to redirect him twice, but I got him all the way out there (it was the full course with a maltese cross and then pen). As soon as the sheep lifted their heads I put him on the ground. I let him take a few steps, and dropped him again. After rinsing and repeating he got the message and we had a really nice run after that. He basically marched the sheep around the course from that point. We had a nice enough fetch - a few wiggles, but nice. We had a jig turning the post, and Nick managed to goose them, so we had to catch them before they could think about the exhaust.

The drive away was really nice. We had a few issues with the crossdrive (wide turn and a few jogs off line, and it took me a bit to get them back on line). It was, however, probably one of the better crossdrives we've managed. It was a LONG drive. Actually, it was a big course for us, really, all the way around. We managed the maltese cross with not a single point off - it was really pretty, as was the pen. We wound up third in Open Ranch - 4 pts out of first. We lost 6 pts for the redirects on his outrun. There were some really nice runs, and I was very pleased with him. We even got a cool third place plaque to hang on the wall.

On the way home I noshed on some Ghirardelli brownies that Julie made - they were OMG good. I had a good time, but it was good to come in out of the rain. I enjoyed getting to scribe some for the judge (Lyle Lad) - I felt like I learned a lot. She was very personable, fair, and consistent.

That was our weekend. I am not sure what's up next. I had intended to move Nick up to Open before too long, but now I'm feeling more like we might need a bit more time in Ranch. We shall see.

Picture by Julie Poudrier

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

6 Things

I've been tagged by Julie at to participate in this meme, so here we go. I'm afraid if you're looking for waxing poetic about butterflies and lilies this won't be THAT list.

6 things that I appreciate that may, to someone else, seem unimportant, but to me are precious:

1. Lip Stuff (balm, gloss, whatever) There's nothing in this world I hate more than sticky lips. If I try to leave the house without it I go back for it.
2. Granny Panties They don't win any sexy points, but sure are comfy. Matter of fact, add comfy pants to this one too. I hate being pinched by clothes. Hate. What's worse is that most undies these days are either cut up to your eyeballs, or down past your hipbones. Yay for Granny Panties I say!
3. Having most of my Family nearby While in some ways it can be difficult, it's nice to be able to just "duck in" or stop by and see them.
4. Bacon Cheese Fries You knew that had to be in there.
5. Getting in out of the rain
6. The feel of my dogs laid out against my back at night (until they make me start to sweat that is).

Ok, so maybe I almost waxed poetic there for a moment. There are so many things I appreciate that make my life better, easier and fuller. I need to tag what was it, six people? Five? I'll think on it.

Trial report will be coming tomorrow probably. Today I'm trying to recover.

Ok, I'm back. I've thought, and I'm going to try to tag some that haven't posted much lately. Then I'm going to email them and harrass them into submission. Hah!

Rachel -
Jen -
Kathy -
Kelly -

and then not slackers, but I'd love to hear from

Carolynn -
Chasing the Dog -

Cough it up. Please?

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Tiny Garden Update

I promised some tiny little garden updates did I not? The above picture shows my tiny little yard, my two tiny little garden boxes (surrounded by the dogs' ex-pens) and two of my three hanging tomato plants. Oh, and I just realized that the folding chair is in the way. Oopsie! The third hanging plant I don't think will make it - I waited too long to get it in the pot. It is not a happy plant. It is a very angry plant. Angry.

This is the second bed I planted, and the spinach, lettuce and green beans I planted from seeds. The thyme, oregano, marigolds (thank you Julie for the marigolds, and thank you Michelle for the help with companion planting!) are from plants. I have one tiny tomato plant (with a friend) growing in the bucket - my Mom had one plant left over. I'll be interested to see how it does. I ran out of dirt too, so we'll see.

This is the first box - shown a few weeks ago. Holy cow.

The hanging tomato plants are practically insane:

One of my 'maters on the hanging plant (the one to the right):

This one was my first, and it's a bit bigger than a golf ball. I'm like a proud mama. Seriously. I actually planted the marigolds last night around 10pm. In the dark. I still have dirt under my fingernails.

The cherry tomato plant is insane. Seriously, that thing is exploding everywhere. The pepper plant has blooms on it, but so far I don't see any evidence of a vegetable. But it's early yet. The hanging plants (aside from the angry plant) have lots of blooms, and lots of tomatoes already growing. The one on the left has yellow heirloom pear shaped tomatoes - but I couldn't get a picture of them easily. They're not yellow yet anyway - but they ARE pear shaped.

This is fun. Doing it this way means little to no weeding, which makes me VERY happy. I don't do weeding. If you don't believe me you should see the flower beds on the front of the house.
Next year I plan to do more research on companion planting beforehand - I'm sort of behind the curve this year on that one. I'm also thinking about trying to grow lettuce and spinach year round. Fun times! I'd have never thought two years ago that I'd even consider planting ANY sort of thing.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Of Dogs and Massage Chairs

Of Dogs...

The Crazies are all doing well, and I've been the slacker (so I've been told) about updating this. So, here we go. Linc is coming along nicely and I'm thinking he'll be ready to run Pro-Novice soon. He's been doing some practical things with me, and seems to really flourish in that regard. I didn't get a chance to work him this past weekend, and last week I was feeling rather the grump and opted out of working any dogs (other than to help Julie with a few sorting chores). He seems to come along leaps and bounds every time I work him here lately - I need to get him out more.

I'm truly anxious for the day that I have regular every day work for my dogs - sheep of my own again, and the space for all of us. Some days it's all I can do to stand my life in the city. Sometimes I feel a little bit like I did when I was a kid with the chicken-pox, and the itching would get to that overwhelming point and nothing helped - and I just wanted to claw my own eyes out. That's what living in the city feels like to me most of the time. Dark and Twisty much? Hah!

The Noodlehead is looking good lately. He's starting to finally develop some eye - and is starting to look a bit stylish on occasion also. In addition to this fun development he's also getting harder-headed, pushier, and is growing up. We helped Julie last week for a few minutes with sorting out her Tunis ewes to go in with her new (and quite handsome, if roman-nosed) BFL ram. Our job was to sort off the Tunis, and then push them out into the unfenced area while she pushed out her new (and absolutely gorgeous) mules. So we put them out, and dang if they didn't just... take off running up the hill towards the street.

I sent Nick to bring them back, and Nick and the sheep were out of my sight for probably 30 seconds. He brought them back as nicely as he could. We also got to have another little mini lesson about flanking off of the path and into the brush. Not too long ago we were working up in the "Back 40" and when I'd try to get Nick to flank while on the path he Would. Not. Go. Off. The. Path. As a result one time he managed to push them back down the path and back up to the back gate of the pasture. I had to help him get off the path (the brush/woods/weeds are a visual barrier I think) but he did it finally.

I've been worried about making Nick too mechanical lately (read that obsessing over it) - so I've been trying to shut up and let him sort through some things. Now that he's matured a bit I'm trying to let him sort more of this stuff out on his own, and now he's tough enough to take my input when he needs it. I'm trying not to be as worried also - and it's working.

Of Massage Chairs...

My Mom treated me to a pedicure on Saturday. You know, they have these massage chair thingies right? Nice, very nice, so I got one heck of a massage while I was there too. I figure even if nobody but the girlz will be seeing my toes it's important to have cute toes. So I sat in the chair while the gal doing my toes made me giggle (OK, so I shrieked several times much to my embarrassment) and now I have cute toes.

But the massage chair? While fun at the time, I am now sore from neck to bootie. For reals. That dang-judy thing beat me up. Darci and Julie promise that they don't see any bruises on my back, but I'm so tender to the touch that it even hurts to lay down in the bed. It's not my muscles that are sore, either. I think that while cute toes are important maybe massage chairs should remain off in the future.

The garden is coming along too. I'm having an absolute ball with it, and I've been talking to my Mom about teaching me to can. I'm sure I could read books and figure it out for myself, but she's pretty darned cool and it'll be fun bonding and stuff.

I've also pulled out the drying rack. I'm making an effort to use my clothes dryer less (as close to not at all as I can get) and I'm toying with figuring out a way to rig up a clothes line too. I've had to explain to the dogs that the drying rack is not there so that they can rub up against the clean laundry (Nick and June's favorite thing aside from fresh poo).

That's pretty much it right now. I'm running Nick in Nursery and Ranch at Dr. Ben's on Memorial Day. I'm pretty excited about that. I'm tossing around the idea of making a few beaded lanyards to take with me also. I suppose it'll depend on how the week goes!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Sausage Bake ala Paula

I've been asked for this recipe, so here it is. I got this recipe from my friend Paula, and I love it. It doesn't have to be babysat really, and I love to put things in the oven and pretty much leave them.

Sausage Bake ala Paula

1 package of low fat Turkey Smoked Sausage (or Kielbasa, or whatever smoked sausage you like)
1 onion
1 pepper (green, red, yellow, doesn't matter)
4 large potatoes (roughly)
1 8oz package of fresh mushrooms
1 Tbsp EVOO
1 Tbsp of your choice of herbs (I like Herbes de Provence because it's cool to say it with a French accent)
Salt and Pepper to taste (crushed red pepper would be tasty too)

Preheat oven to 350. Wash and then chop peppers, onions, and potatoes into bite sized chunks. Chop the potatoes slightly smaller to encourage faster and more thorough cooking. Mix the veggies with the EVOO and herbs & spices. While that's sitting chop the sausage, and then mix it in with the veggies. Pour the mixture (dump?) into a 9 x 13 baking dish (sprayed with cooking spray). Put it in the oven uncovered for an hour to an hour and fifteen minutes (until the potatoes are cooked through). Stir approximately every 15-20 minutes.

After about 30 minutes have passed sprinkle a bit of salt, pepper, and herbs on the mushrooms, and add them for the last 30-45 minutes. If you like the mushrooms more wilted you can add them at the beginning.

This makes (to my count) about six big fat servings - at about 5 pts per serving if you use turkey sausage. Figure in an additional two points for kielbasa or non-low-fat sausage. I'd think zucchini would also work nicely here, or whatever vegetables a person likes. I'd think sweet potates, apples, onions and garlic would be nice too. Hm, there's a thought - sort of a fall version.

PS - mushrooms are optional

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Dear Crazies...

Please, my head is not a safe haven in the middle of the night. When it thunders, when the power goes out, or when the smoke detector decides to start chirping, my head is not the place to hide. When I wake with one of you on top of my head I am not happy.

No matter how pitiful you look, or how you give me the doe eyes, seriously, don't jump on my head. I feel your plight, I really do. There are, however, limitations to my concern.

I know, I love you too. I don't want you to be scared. But for reals, I need my beauty sleep.

While I'm at it I'd also like to send a shout out to the cordless phone. Dear Cordy... 4:23 am is not the time to decide that your batteries are dying. Please, keep your chirping to yourself. What, are you and the smoke detector in cahoots?

You all better straighten up and fly right tonight, or you'll have a visit from the Crazy lady with the orange fire shooting out of her eye sockets. I mean it.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Linc Gets to be Big Dog

Photo by Robin French

Yesterday I ran over to Julie's to work dogs with Kelly, and to load some sheep for her. I had used Nick to sort off the Karakul yearling lambs for Linc, but it turned out that yesterday they were not their usual heavy selves - they were trying to run hell-bent for leather. This is a bad thing, because Linc doesn't really have quite the head for that yet.

So I decided to use Linc to put the lambs back and then sort off the hair sheep instead. Nevermind the fact that Linc hasn't done much by way of sorting and holding and such. I sent him into the paddock (which is long and skinny) and to my surprise he shimmied along the fence quiet and methodical, and scooped the sheep out of that far corner. I lied him down, and proceeded to try to sort out the hair sheep. I had all but one, and OOPS - a Karakul ewe too. The ewes were getting more and more pushy at the gate, and I was flanking Linc around (which he did very nicely) to try to shift the ones I wanted to the front.

Next thing I knew the bastard sheep decided to run me over, and Linc decided to help them. Out the gate they all went - I've learned my lesson on standing my ground (to a point) and having my feet taken out from under me. Linc, in hot pursuit, covered the sheep nicely. He decided at that point, though, that he no longer knew what stopping was. I can't say that I blame him - it was all very exciting. But still, we had a job to do and I needed him to have his head on to do it. We had a little discussion about stopping when asked to - and he just straightened right up.

I decided to keep using him after seeing that he was going to keep thinking. I let the sheep I did NOT want back into the paddock, and Linc did everything I asked of him - nicely, quietly, and thoughtfully. We then scooped the hair sheep off the gate, and finally got down to the order of business - driving, and little outruns. His left hand outrun has opened up a bit from last week, and appears to be coming along nicely. I could feel him looking at me a couple of times but forced myself to look at the sheep, and walk confidently. Next thing I knew he was just... doing it. He was covering and holding the line, and I was grinning like a lunatic. I felt like we were working together, and I was able to relax and not lean on him.

Robin said something that really stuck with me the other day. Among other things she said to treat Linc as if he was already more trained than he is - and then he would be. That's what I did, and he was.

When it was time to put the sheep all back out, I decided to just go on and use Linc again. To my amazement he had finally "gotten" what I wanted - and helped me to quietly let the sheep out - which I did one or two at a time. He was awfully proud of himself, and I was proud of him too. He got to be Big Dog yesterday - and we both liked it.