Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Happy Administrative Professionals Day!

Happy Admins day to all of the under appreciated Administrative Assistants out there! This is the (quite adorable) bouquet that my Executive team sent me today. I love daisies! They're like... little bundles of happiness exploding in a vase.

For my very own personal gift for Admin's day my boss has instructed me to go get his car washed.

It is going to rain.

Yeah, really.

After a while I convinced him that it might make sense to wait until Friday when it's finished raining. He explained that if it wasn't supposed to rain until later in the day to get it washed anyway.


I 'splained that there was a 95% chance of rain after 2pm.

He snarked at me. Not that that is any different than any other day.

I think maybe I'll pee in his tea. No, not really. But it sure is tempting. That would definitely be a Happy Admins day to me!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Pet Peeve of the Day

Pet Peeve of the day:

Women who pee on the toilet seat and leave it there.

That is all.

Actually, that's not all. If you're of gentle disposition you may want to just stop reading now. Don't want to offend sensibilities.

At any rate, I'm not sure if it jeebes me out more when they leave it or when they've peed on it and wiped it away and then I don't know it. Either way I'm way too old and uncoordinated to hover at work a million times a day. Understand that hovering in public places is still mandatory, but I justify that if we all work together every day we're sharing enough anyway to make us almost family. Now granted I could go the triple-thick-ass-gasket route, but I don't always have that much time when I'm scrambling with all of the stoopid buttons on my britches.

There's not that many women here at my office, and I'm sorry but when you drink a bazillion bottles of water a day you have to go pee. A lot. So sorry, but I gotta sit. I think with the vertigo thing these days popping up on occasion hovering is a bad idea. The only idea that appeals less than sitting in pee is falling over with my knickers around my ankles. Bad. Very bad.

Of course most of the time I just wipe the seat before sitting for good measure. However, sometimes the matter is more urgent. Sometimes I miss a spot. Either way... you hussies are peeving me. Cut it out.

These days I'm not nearly as concerned about the cootie factor. I just don't want to have to wipe pee off of my behind. So please. Wipe it up. kthnx.

PS - I've narrowed it down and I think I know who you are.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Nick and Linc's Excellent Adventure - part 6 (the final installment)

... that a lamb was out. She was a teenie tiny little thing, and she was on the outside of the fence in the brambles... screaming her head off. She is the one that Julie and I refer to as the "princess pea lookalike" as she looks like Princess Pea from last year's lamb crop.

It turned out that my good lamb dog (Linc) was in the van sitting this last walk out as he was a hair tender footed, and had worked his fluffy little bustle butt off anyway. I had Nick, Ginger, and June with me. I thought, "No problem! I have my open dog, I'll just send Nick into the woods to get her." There was NO way I was bringing the flock out and risking losing either the guard dog (again) or the sheep (again). I thought, "How much trouble could one little lamb POSSIBLY be?"

Turns out... a lot.

I sent Nick into the woods and he immediately flanked all the way back around BEHIND the sheep pen... and the look on his face was "I DON'T SEE ANYTHING OUT HERE WOMAN!!!!" I kept calling him in and calling him in, and even when I'd get him right on top of the lamb it was obvious that he wasn't seeing her as something to be worked directly.

**insert gigantic sigh here**

So who went into the woods to catch the lamb I ask you? Me. I tromped in there, and started working the lamb up the fence line myself thinking I'd slowly drive her around and then slip her into the gate. Or better yet, call my dog in at the end of the fence and have him walk straight in and push her to me. Tried that, sucked bad. Firstly Nick was still doing his "I don't see anything" routine, and secondly I was somehow stuck in the briars and couldn't get out.

Many scratches later I was out, Nick was still flanking wildly around the pen, and the lamb was now running on the open area side of the pen... still screaming her head off.

I blocked one end of the fence line, and kept trying to flank Nick around... to no avail. I began to think that I might just have to pull the flock out after all, when to my amazement something really darned special happened.

June brought me the lamb. When I realized she was was taking my flanks and stops, and was going to bring it I got quiet. I watched as she just... did what I needed her to do. I caught the lamb, put her back in the pen, and took the dogs for a walk.

In case you missed it... June brought me the lamb!! On purpose!

It was a moment that made me want to weep. I still might.

I could tell you guys a rooster story, but I don't want it to get lost in my weepy moment.

So though there were some frustrating and terrifying moments, there were also some feel-good moments too. I know Nick and Linc particularly had a grand time, thus the title "Nick and Linc's Excellent Adventure".

The End.

Nick and Linc's Excellent Adventure - part 5 (sheep... and dogs)

Sunday afternoon I relented, and decided to go ahead and let the sheep out to graze again. I decided it would make good sense to use both dogs - Nick and Linc - and lie Nick down over where he could hold the pressure for the driveway and the garden (for the most part) and then I would pull the sheep out with Linc. The long and the short of it is that every time I would send Linc in the pen Nick would start flanking. So I would boom out "LIE DOWN" at Nick. Nick would keep going, but poor Linc would come running cowering at my feet. Brilliant plan, eh?

After pulling Linc out, and taking Nick by the collar back to where I'd originally laid him down like... fifty times... I finally managed to sort of get them to do what I wanted. Nick had crept a bit, but was still in a position to hold the pressure (mostly). We got the sheep out, and though they started creeping towards the garden I was in position, as were the dogs, to head them off. So the dogs and I settled down near the back porch (we were fanned out) to guard against insurgents.

As we sat quietly, the Ram was mounting his attack. There he was trying to lead his fan club on an end run around the quarterback. Oh yes. They were trying to sneakies through the woods to go to the angry neighbor lady's house. But this time I was ready. I sent Nick over there to stop them. I think they actually had looks of disgust on their faces. It was a major sheep FAIL moment. I was pleasantly surprised that I was able to flank Nick come bye and have Linc stay where he was, and then was able to flank Linc away to cover a small group of ewes and lambs trying to make a break for it up the driveway. Good dogs.

Then as I was putting the sheep back away, I turned my back on Maia for a milisecond(guard dog, remember her?) and she dashed out the gate screaming JAILBREAK!!!!

My heart hit the floor. Maia was, for all intents and purposes, basically feral for a while, and it took them months to catch her (this is life before-Julie). This was bad. Really bad. I thought, "Great. First I let the sheep go to the angry neighbor's yard, and now I have lost Julie's guard dog. This is fabulous. I am SO fired. I'm probably fired from BFF status too. What am I going to do?"

I had options. #1 - Voice of doom at Maia. #2 - use my dogs to take the sheep over to her, and then hope she comes back with them. #3 - talk nicely to Maia and hope she comes back. #4 - Go get dog food and try to lure her back.

I went with #3 and #4.

I put the sheep, Nick, and Linc away (separately, obviously) and went to the house to get Maia's dinner, all the while talking nicey nice to her, and keeping an eye out as I went.

The door-knob fell off. I knew it did sometimes, but it hadn't failed me until this moment. I felt like picking it up and throwing it out into the yard, but I didn't. I put it back on (ok, more like crammed it on), and stomped through the house muttering about animals who don't do what they're supposed to do. I filled up a bowl with kibble, and ran back out the front door.

I went around the side and finally spotted Maia wandering in the woods. I walked parallel to her rattling the bowl of kibble, and talking all nicey-nice-I'm-not-going-to-kill-you to her. My heart just kept sinking as she kept wandering. She took lots of dumps. I didn't know a dog could poo that much. She peed lots too. I'm guessing she was marking her territory. Sounds reasonable to me. If I had made a jailbreak I'd be all about some marking some things too! Then suddenly, her head came up, and she came running.

I turned and ran, laughing like a lunatic, and flung the gate open, all while rattling the bowl and calling her nicely. I almost lost the sheep out the gate, but Maia was cranking through it, and they turned.

Whew. Crisis averted. I went back inside and played Cityville until my hands stopped shaking. At this point I thought to myself, "Maybe I shouldn't tell anyone about ANY of this. Ever."

A little while later I would decide to take the dogs on one last walk to the river. Unfortunately, I would find...

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Nick and Linc's Excellent Adventure - part 4 (a dog installment)

(photo by Dan King)

Ok, funny time is over. I didn't want to risk boring anyone (hah, if I've not already lost everyone) to tears by scary-to-me chicken stories ad nauseum. So I thought I'd do an update on some of the really amazing work my dogs did this past weekend.

Nick actually didn't get a whole lot of work as I thought this would be a good chance to give Linc as much practical work as possible. Linc was my go-to dog for everything, with the minor exception of rounding up the renegade sheep in part 2. However, on Saturday Lauren and I met over at Robin's to work dogs, and she held out for me some. I have been working with Nick on the concept of "you can go around objects like ponds and such on your outruns". It took a bit of reminding, but I had him going around Robin's pond nicely. I was quite proud. I also worked on reinforcing him taking his whistles a little further out. He's been stonewalling me (all, "I can't hear you!!!" and though we have learned at a BAER test that he doesn't hear normally in one of his ears, at this distance I KNOW he can hear me). It was good!

Nick also got lessons on... not being #1 all the time. It was a lesson for me too. It is SO hard to do that... leave my best dog up while I slog through chores that take longer because I'm teaching a young dog to do them.

(photo by Robin French)

Linc... was a superstar this past weekend. We worked on cross-driving (Robin's hill is great for that) and I had a MAJOR epiphany on Sunday. Here it is: He's danged fast. I thought I was having trouble on the cross drive because he was overflanking. Nope. Turns out I've been under-stopping. Or over-stopping. Whatever. My timing has SUCKED, and I wasn't stopping him soon enough. He was overflanking, and it was my fault. As a result things kept getting squirrelly, and then he would barrel in there because we're both frustrated with each other.

Duh Laura.

I gave him the whole flock up on the hill, and stood there READY to do my part. It was amazing. We freaking cross-drove. As I had previously reminded him to stay out, and was stopping him sooner on his walk ups (creating more distance between him and the sheep), stopping him correctly on his flanks, AND because he was keeping nice pace and not cranking on his sheep... it was lovely.

We also did some shedding work with the whole group, some flanking between groups, and some catching sheep when they're trying to get back together type stuff. Boy did he LOVE that. In the past I've not been able to do these kinds of things with him much 'cuz all he'd want to do was bite stuff when he'd come through. But wow. He had a cool head, and was trying really hard.

Dink-man managed to do Open length outruns, blind outruns (though he was a tad uncertain on this, but he did it!) and for the first time lifted carefully and thoughtfully. He was just working thoughtfully in general, which was a huge epiphany for him I think! He worked at a distance navigating sheep around the pond, and I was putting a LOT of pressure on him there and he not only took it but seemed SO proud of himself. I was proud of him too.

He worked *with* me all weekend - putting ewes and lambs in and out of the pen at Julie's, helping to get up the lambs that got stalled out... and helped tend as we let them graze (Sunday was a much better deal) and he did a fabulous job teaming up with Nick to hold sheep off of the feed bunks twice a day.

My little silly black dog is growing up, and all three of us were happy.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Nick and Linc's Excellent Adventure - part 3 (a chicken installment)

Did you know that in order to collect eggs from the chicken coop one must actually physically go into the chicken coop?

Saturday afternoon I found myself in the chicken coop with what seemed to be a million chickens milling around my feet. It had taken me all afternoon to work my nerve up to go back in there (after the morning chicken/back belly flop episode) but I was determined to collect eggs. Spoils of war, baby! Nevermind that I had about four or five false starts where I'd almost go in there and then turn around and walk away (quickly, of course).

I finally went in, and thought to myself, "I know! I'll give them more food so they'll stay away from me!" While this did work to keep the ones that were in the coop already away from me, it also worked to bring all of their little friends flapping and squawking in through the door to get in on the action. I hadn't really counted on that. I also hadn't counted on the fact that Nick was out there and he was doing his part to bring me chickens.

I tried to explain to Nick that it wasn't really necessary to bring me more chickens, but mostly I was only able to stand in place (uh... frozen in fear?) and squeal... and scream out "No flapping! NO flapping!!", though I don't think the chickens were listening. I didn't even have the breath to bring out a voice of doom "LIE DOWN"... I mostly just concentrated on not having a coronary. It occurred to me that if I actually died in there the chickens probably would eat my body. Can't have that.

That ba&%ard dog of mine just kept bringing chickens. Those ba$&ard chickens just kept flapping. I realized I was cornered, and to try to walk through the see of bodies would mean more ruckus. So I did the only thing a girl could do... I started collecting eggs. In my shirt. 'Cuz I'd forgotten the egg basket.

I had this strange - and admittedly unreasonable - fear that a chicken would somehow peck my belly. I know, it makes no sense, but I couldn't help it. I kept my shirt sort of over my tum while still holding eggs... but not crushing them. I'm special like that. I sang a little song in my head about collecting eggs, only occasionally punctuated by a squeal when a chicken would flap.

I got to the last nest box and there was a chicken in it. No way was I putting my hand in there. Ever. She even looked pissed off. Like she was some sort of... devil chicken. No, not really, but give me some credit... I'd been wading in a sea of chickens and hadn't run yet (or wet my pants).

I walked slowly, quietly out of the coop, with my spoils of war quietly nestled in my shirt. I took them in the house and carefully put them in egg cartons. I then danced up and down while screaming "EW EW EW" and spinning in tiny circles. Then it occurred to me that I would have to do this again the next day.

I figured I would need a new plan if I was going to avoid death and having my body pecked over.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Nick and Linc's Excellent Adventure (part 2 - a sheep installment)

There aren't a whole lot of seriously major rules in farm-sitting. However, one of them would be "don't let the sheep run away". You know, don't let em in the road to get killed, that sort of thing. One of the things Julie said to me, before she left, was "Don't let the sheep go to the neighbor's house." Apparently this neighbor doesn't like sheep in her yard. Why ever not? I cannot even fathom. At any rate, to give you guys a mental image, this is the general area:

After the "great chicken adventure of certain Laura death" I went over to Robin's and worked Nick and Linc. I got back to Julie's, and as she'd requested that the sheep be let out of their pen to graze if I felt like it, I decided to let them out. I was basically just to not let the sheep run away, and not let them go to the neighbor's house. Easy peasy. I'm the farm-sitting queen. I'm on it. Whatever.

I put Nick away, and took Linc over to scoop them out of the pen (the blue box, with a sheep next to it in the picture above). I was also charged with not letting Maia out of the pen... as SHE would run away. Maia is the Guard Dog, whom I could not catch to tie up, by the way. At any rate, Linc brought the sheep out just as pretty as you please. I learned something very exciting in this... Linc works lambs.

Unfortunately I had one lone lamb that didn't make it out the gate with the rest of the flock. The flock was running around the yard all willy nilly, screaming JAILBREAK!!!!!!!!! The lamb was running around the paddock all willy nilly screaming, MOOOOOOMMMM! I was in the pen with Linc with my back turned to the flock trying to let the lamb out but keep the guard dog in (a delicate balance to be sure). I thought maybe we could just... pop it out. Yeah right.

I just happened to turn around to see that the troublemakers were in the little garden. Julie had warned me that they like to graze the garden, which is but a few steps away from the angry neighbor lady's house. Bad. Grazing the garden is bad. Garden leads to angry neighbor lady, so no garden grazing. So I pulled Linc out of the pen, shut the gate (oblivious to the lamb screams in this moment) and sent Linc over to bring back the troublemakers.

He brought them back (good dog), and I finally got a little smarter and had him bring some of the flock up to the gate. I then sent him back into the pen to lay quietly, and he and I made it so that the best choice for the lamb was just to go out the gate and hang with his friends. Good lamb. Good for my ears too. I almost lost Maia out the gate, but I managed to push her back and shut the gate at the last second. Whew.

Sheep were out to graze, Maia was in the pen, and Linc and I could go chill and watch. So the first picture I took up top was when Linc and I were peacefully watching the sheep graze from the back porch. The wind was blowing, the sun was shining, and we were both in our happy Zen place until.... until I realized I was short some sheep. I had been sitting there for probably 10 minutes or so, and I didn't actually know how many sheep I had for sure, but it didn't look like enough.

I figured I'd best go count, go look, whatever. I counted eleven. I felt sure I had more than eleven adults (and a ton of lambs). As I started to walk around the house towards the front I ran almost headlong into a woman... a neighbor from across the street. She'd come over to tell me that there were sheep out... and they were near the angry neighbor's yard and headed for the road. In a panic (and more than a little bit PO'd) I turned and hauled buggy back to the van.

I put Linc away in a rush and grabbed Nick out (I wasn't really feeling like risking a training moment). The neighbor lady (very nice, very pretty, but she startled me and I almost had to go change my drawers again) was following along yammering something about coming to watch as she'd never seen this before. I was on a mission, though, and couldn't tell you what she actually said. She seemed nice.

As far as I was concerned both the sheep and I were in BIG trouble. I was playing the Imperial Death March in my head. Yes, really. I was going to get those naughty sheep. They were going to come home, and they would LIKE IT.

I came around the corner, and sure as shootin' they were in the neighbor's yard - or close to it. They were on the other side of the gardenish thing on the edge there, just skirting the trees. They didn't appear to be really headed for the road... they appeared to be more like kids in a candy store. They were running amok, and it was my fault. The ram was the ring leader, and I KNEW he'd been in the garden crashers group, just as I knew I'd brought him back. So somehow or another he'd made an end run around the quarterback, and had ended up over there. He'd taken friends to the party.

I was irate.

I sent Nick out there, and didn't say a word when he gripped one of the ewes who turned to look at him, and then proceeded to bring them just a bit faster than necessary.

After the nice neighbor lady left, I turned to the sheep, and said, "That's IT! Grazing privileges are LOST."

All I could keep thinking was how the ONLY directive about the sheep Julie gave me was don't let them go to the angry neighbor's yard. And what did I do? I let them go to the angry neighbor's yard. They probably pooped in it. A lot. Yeah, making friends here. Not only that but I was terrified that maybe I hadn't gotten them all back. Turns out I did (get them all back) but it was worrisome.

The next day I would think long and hard about whether or not I'd even let them out again. They don't do what they're told, and they don't stay where they're supposed to stay, even when I'm right there! Sheep that don't do what they're told get grounded. I would relent, eventually, and then I would find out on Sunday the level of sneakiness involved. Oh yeah. Very sneaky sheep. But I fear they underestimated MY sneakiness.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Nick and Linc's Excellent Adventure (part 1 - a chicken installment)

This past weekend I loaded up all of the dogs and headed out to farm-sit for Julie while she was setting sheep at a dog trial. We had so many adventures that I'm intending to break this down in parts. My apologies in advance as I don't have pictures (maybe one) to illustrate, so words will just have to do.

I know this is the part you've all been waiting for, so I'm making part 1 the first of my chicken installments.

Friday night when I got there I closed the chicken coop with no issues. Saturday morning my first job was to open the chicken coop. Most who know me (at least in a farming context anyhow) pretty much know that I'm a little afraid of chickens - quite specifically the squawking and flapping. Ok, terrified. Phobic. Freaked out. Skeered. Pall of death. You get the idea.

If they'd just sit there quietly and not move or squawk I'd probably be able to touch them. Maybe.

But I digress. Julie had warned me that they'd come flapping and squawking out, so I was armed with a plan. I took a bucket of corn (she'd told me this was part of the routine) and sprinkled it NOT in front of the coop, but slightly up the hill... in the opposite direction of where I was going to stand. I steeled myself while standing behind the door (down the hill) as I slid open the latch. I took a deep breath, grabbed the rope handle, and pulled.

Chickens everywhere. But that's OK. I was ready for them, and they were flying AWAY from me. I patted myself on the back for my ingenuity and resolve in such a potentially harrowing situation. Surely I had escaped certain death. Or at least certain scream.

I waited... and waited... and I when no more poured out I went to remove the baby gate that was wedged in the doorway (an additional measure to keep dogs out during the day) so that I could put out feed and change the water (uh... the feed and water bucket were in the coop, with an additional water pan outside). As I leaned over to unlatch the freakin frackin stuck baby gate the last chicken on earth squawked, and flew over me - hitting my back and thumping me with her wings on her way out. She was big, loud, and literally I think she belly-flopped across my back.

I screamed, danced in place for a second, and then fell back on an old favorite... I ran like a little girl. I almost fell over a stump, and I think I wet my pants a little. This was definitely NOT one of my finer moments.

In fact, I'm pretty sure I actually died for a few seconds.

I eventually worked up my nerve to walk back over there, and peered cautiously inside (one eyeball at a time). I completed my mission - fed and watered, and then got the heck out of Dodge.

THAT was my early morning wake up call. I looked over at the sheep and said, "You girls will have to wait. I need a drink." I stomped back in the house, made coffee, and played "Cityville" on Facebook while waiting for my heart to stop racing and for my hands to stop shaking. Good morning to me!