Thursday, April 30, 2009

We're Here! the trial that is. Sittin' on the bed, watching TV, eating pizza, hanging out with the dogs. Looks like it's going to be a rainy weekend, hope i get to run between storms. I ran over to the field and it sure looks different than last year. Still big and lays beautifully, 400 rolling yards to the top and very, very wide. But the lush, green grass is gone. Apparently the farm sprayed for thistles and killed everything, and will be reseeding soon. So it'll look good again next year but it was a shock today. I'm sure the trial will be fun and the competition good though. Bill runs early tomorrow in ProNovice. I'll post updates back here in the dry hotel room.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Almost Time

It's almost time for trial season to begin! We leave Thursday for our first trip out, to the Shaker Village trial in Harrodsburg, KY. I went to this trial last year and thought it would be a fabulous place for a double lift, and this year they've added a DL for the top 5 combined scores from saturday and sunday. I'll be running Zac and Jet in the Open, and Bill in the Pronovice. I have Bill entered in Nursery as well but won't decide on running him until i see how he does in PN. He's gotten pretty pushy on his fetch here recently and i'm not sure i want him and sheep nearly 400 yards away from me just yet! If he's listening well and handling the sheep kindly in PN, i'll give Nursery a try but it's not too likely at this point. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that Zac will be okay for the trial. This past tuesday he came up lame on a front leg after working. I think he probably sprained his wrist. It was definitely lower in the leg and i couldn't find any toes that were ouchy. I've kept him on strict rest and been soaking it in epsom salts. The limp is gone but i'm leery of letting him do much just yet. I would have liked more prep time with him and to have done more conditioning but at least it looks like he should be able to run. Wild boy is all the time hurting himself.

The last couple of weeks have been very busy, with training and trying to prepare to be on the road a good portion of May. I've managed to drag Bill and Jet out to a few new fields to work though nothing as large as i'd have liked. Bill is showing his age (20 months) but that's okay. I'll try to not let him get over his head in these upcoming trials. He's getting confident and pushy and a little bull headed. Not such a bad thing to see coming out, though the timing might not be the best! Jet is working pretty well. Zac was working well before pulling up lame.

This past weekend was (you guessed it!) a busy one. Friday afternoon off training at a friend's place, saturday shearing the sheep and getting the garden tilled and planted, sunday lessons at Julie's and then scrubbing the winter mess off of my van so it won't be disgusting to drive to KY. I'm looking forward to taking it easy at the uncoming trials!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Busy busy busy

That seems to be my most popular word these days...busy! Lambing has wrapped up, with 15 ewes delivering 10 ewe lambs and 11 ram lambs. It all went pretty smoothly for the most part and now we watch and try to avoid the dreaded M-word (mastitis). Peggy did an excellent shepherding job this past weekend while i was on the road, catching an early case and getting it doctored up quickly. I hope that's the worst of it for this year. I find mastitis to be very frustrating, catching you just as you think you can relax a little bit after lambing.

For the weekend, I decided to take a spot in a training clinic that had opened up due to a last minute cancellation. Janet Harvey hosts Patrick Shanahan a couple of times a year at her place in Ellicott City, MD and i've been trying to get to one of the clinics for awhile now. I worked with Patrick a couple of times many years ago (when Gael was just starting out!) and enjoyed it very much, with a lot of it really sticking with me over time. Since my weekend wasn't jam packed with things i couldn't rearrange, i decided to take advantage of the free spot. It was a very good clinic with a nice group of dogs and people, a good setting and perfect sheep. I ended up doing a bit with both Billy and Zac and got some good ideas and reminders. I think i probably train quite a bit like Patrick, as i found myself nodding my head a lot and seeing him do exactly what i'd be standing there thinking about with the other dogs in the clinic. It was very nice to have a fresh set of eyes watching my dogs and Patrick offered some good ideas on tweaking a few things with both of them. I will definitely be keeping his ideas in mind. Both of my boy dogs were feeling their oats for some reason this weekend. Maybe it was the lovely wool sheep but both were definitely "feeling it". Zac was wound up tighter than a top and Billy was trying out his freight train impression on the short fetches we were doing. I didn't really mind it with either of them but thought it was interesting. Wonder if they'll act the same at the upcoming trials?

Speaking of trials, i can't believe we leave for Shaker Village in 10 days. Where has all my time to get ready for these trials gone?!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Busy Days

It's been a full and all-too-quick weekend. Yesterday i ran over to a local sheepdog trial to run Jet, Zac and Billy. Bill ran first in PN and did pretty okay. Outrun, lift and fetch were very nice, start of the drive went well but the sheep started stalling out and stomping at the driveaway panel and Bill just didn't know what to do about it. It was just his lack of experience showing. I went ahead and flanked him around to bring the sheep back before they'd gone through the panel rather than keep trying to hit it and time ran out as they got to the pen. He ended up in 3rd place. Jet ran next in the Open and was really, really sharp. She only lost 8 points on the course, and those were all on the drive from a wide turn and a pull through at the crossdrive panel. Zac ran next and wasn't nearly as sharp, especially on his outrun and lift. Fetch, drive, pen and single were very clean. It was good to get the dogs out to see what i need to be concentrating on going into the spring trials. At the end of the day, Jet ended up in 1st place (her first win!) and Zac tied for 2nd, finishing 3rd after the tie was broken on outwork. It was a fun day and a nice field to run on.

Today was a long day of farm chores broken up by a nice Easter brunch with my folks. How many people do you think show up for an Easter meal on an ATV? :-) Anyway, it was a good day and good to check some things off the to-do list. The dogs had a great day running and playing and getting into all kinds of messes at the farm. It's been a while since they've had one of those kinds of days. No lambs since this past thursday so we're still sitting at 17 with 10 being girls. There are still 5 ewes bagged up and ready to go, hopefully soon.

I did finally manage to get a few pictures of the lambs and Meg. It's hard to get pictures of Meg since she doesn't stop often and her nose is almost always on the ground. She's all legs these days.

Sunday, April 5, 2009


Lambing 2009 is off to a quick start. We started on wednesday with a nice set of twin girls. Friday evening another set of twins popped out, a girl and a boy. When i got to the farm early saturday morning, another set of girl/boy twins was waiting on me, and a single girl followed in short order. The ewe with the single spent the day somewhat confused. She was very bonded to her lamb but didn't want to let it nurse - it almost seemed she'd lose track of it and circle to keep it in front of her. We spent the day holding her several times so the lamb could get plenty of colostrum and by late evening both mom and lamb had it figured out. This morning we had what i'm calling "teacup" twins - they're teeny tiny, not even half the size of the other lambs. The ewe was just a yearling and really was being awfully ambitious producing twins rather than one nice single. So far they seem to be hanging in there so we'll keep fingers crossed they make it. They're a girl/boy set as well. Mid-morning we had a labor race. Two ewes went into labor at about the same time. I went ahead and jugged them next to each other and the race was on to see who could produce first, complete with a cheering audience as some of my lesson folks saw their first lambs being born. A set of twins (girl/boy) showed up while the other poor ewe was really struggling to push out a large lamb. She finally managed to shove out a single ram lamb. It really took a lot out of her as she decided that she'd worked quite hard enough thank you, and spent the rest of the day lying propped up comfortably in the jug chewing on hay while her lamb learned to nurse on his knees! Fortunately that was it for the day as all of my lambing pens are full for the moment. It won't surprise me if i have to kick some out in the morning for new lambs though. So, 7 ewes have lambed (6 first timers), producing 8 girls and 4 boys. A good start! I'll get some pictures some time this week.
ETA: #13 showed up this morning (monday), another big ram lamb.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

2009 Sheepdog Finals Video

This is great, sure wish we could go!