Monday, June 29, 2009

Catching Up, Breezy Hill SDT

I thought i should maybe do a quick catchup post before i get so far behind that i can't remember what's happened! Things have been pretty hectic in off-farm stuff - trying to arrange some home repairs, thinking about buying a new truck, yada yada.

In dog and farm stuff, lots has been happening as well. Spottie has gone to live with Kelly Jerman so she'll have a second dog to work and trial. Kelly's just getting started in this stuff and Spottie should be a good teacher for her. I expect they'll do great together and we'll be seeing Kelly on the trial field in no time, with both Spottie and her young dog Jen. It'll be nice to be able to see Spottie on a regular basis since i see Kelly at least a couple of times a month.

This past weekend, the dogs and i went to the Breezy Hill trial in VA. It's been years and years since i've gone to trial there, even though it's only a couple of hours away. It was a lot of fun and the sheep were mostly pretty okay - not the crazy-ass barbs from years past! I ran Jet early in the Open class on saturday. She ran pretty decent but i screwed up the pen badly. The sheep needed some convincing to go in and i went to sleep on closing the gate or something - they popped right out for no good reason. I didn't protect the opening like i should have, oh well. Never did get the shed after they got all upset. Zac ran next and i was really thrilled with how well he worked. He was smooth and sharp and did a terrific job on a less than cooperative barb ewe that kept trying to break off. I knew before she even got to my feet on the fetch that she'd be a problem at the pen and she was - after some jostling around we did get the group penned but lost several points and came out of the pen with only a few seconds left to shed. I forced a hole quickly and pulled Zac through but again lost some points for a sloppy job, though getting a few is better than none for time running out! I didn't run Bill the first day. ProNovice is held in a smaller fenced area at this trial, with a lot of pressure and i didn't want to put Bill in that. At the end of the day, Julie Poudrier and Twist were 1st and Zac and i were in second place.

Since there was more time for running dogs on sunday (saturday there was a long lunch break for a VBCA club meeting, or a nap if you were me...LOL!), i decided to move Bill up to Ranch so he could run on the larger field. He did such a good job! He had a rogue ewe much like the one Zac had on saturday, one that wanted to break off all the way around the course, and he handled it extremely well, especially for such an inexperienced trial dog. She broke off hard at the lift and Bill very calmly worked the split group back together into a bunch and brought them up the field. These sheep always break hard to the right at the first drive panel towards the top of the field, and that threw Bill a little - i flanked him left but he wanted to go right so he could more quickly catch the sheep to keep them from escaping. It took a couple of commands from me but he did go the right way and caught the group easily, putting them back on line for the crossdrive. Crossdrive and return leg were nice and Bill did his usual lovely job at the pen. Bill ended up winning the class, a nice way to begin running the Ranch class! Zac was my first dog up in the Open and had a really lousy group of sheep. He worked so hard but they were just going to run and race around no matter what. We got around and penned, and then quit after trying the shed for a minute or so. It wasn't going to happen and it was too hot to keep working at it. Jet ran later and was good around the course but we gave up a bunch of points at the top end of the field when she pulled up on the setout pen and then was short on the set sheep too. After 3 or 4 redirects, she finally got around and lifted. Fetch and drive were okay, pen good, then with time running out, we missed an attempt on the shed. Neither Open dog placed on sunday. Bill was the dog of the day for sunday!

I'm not sure where we'll be headed next trial-wise. I'd planned to go to Canada in early August but now with Chris due to pup and a bunch of other stuff going on, i may not make it. It may be the end of August before our next trial. In the meantime, i'll be anxiously awaiting the Zac/Chris pups, sharpening up the Open dogs' shedding, and trying to get Bill ready for moving to Open too, possibly this fall. The fall trial schedule is really filling up and it's going to be a busy trial season!

That darned barb keeps trying to leave the group!

Zac says "Get the heck back in there with your friends!"

Zac completes the shed

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


Today was the big day -- Chris' ultrasound to check for puppies. The news is good and Zac x Chris pups are due at the end of July/beginning of August! We could see one puppy very clearly and good indications of 3 or 4 more. It's notoriously difficult to estimate litter size with an ultrasound, and puppies do get resorbed sometimes, but it looks like a decent sized litter on the way. If all goes well, we'll have some of these before the summer is out!

Zac and Chris as babies!
Photos of Chris shamelessly stolen from Darci's blog...

Monday, June 15, 2009

Spottie and Weekend Update

I've mentioned a couple of times that i have Spottie back at home now. I'd placed her over the winter in a retirement/light working home, in hopes she'd get some attention and train her new novice owner in sheepwork but it didn't work out and she's been back with me for about a month. Since she and Gael have a slightly brittle relationship (get along okay but no love lost there), i'd like to try again to place her. She has a couple more issues this time around - first being she's on a very strict diet to get some weight off of her. She weighed about 38 pounds her entire working life and came back to me at 53 pounds, yikes! Anyway, i'd like to find a good pet home or light working home, possibly with a novice looking to learn the ropes of sheep trialing or someone looking for a well trained pet. Spottie would be fine as a spoiled rotten companion, doesn't need sheepwork to be happy. A few chewies and some toys and she's fine. If you're interested or know someone who might be, contact me. After the last home not working out, i'll warn you i will be very picky!

The weekend was good, no big events to report but a lot of work done around the farm. Mowing is finally all done and i'm making a dent in the thistles and other weeds that seem determined to rule the world, or at least my pasture. The back fenceline is finally cleared of the brush and trees that were laying on it. Garden is tilled and weeded and starting to produce squash and cucumbers. The farm looks so nice right now, like a park! I got inspired to work my dogs yesterday and they all did pretty well. In my mind, Bill seems like a trained dog but i do need to get out there with him and finish him out. His top end when sent left needs some work - he'll take any excuse to be tight as he goes around to that side. So i did a little corner work to open that up, and will need to do a lot more. His shedding is coming along well and he's starting to really get it. His eyes light up now when he sees me setting up and that hole appears. He's going to love it, you can just tell. I worked Spottie just a little bit (her fat self can only take a little!) and she was great, taking every little whistle. Sheep sure like her. Zac was a little wild but worked with great precision when i asked him to. Jet still seems a little off her game, a little uncertain. I set up the maltese cross and played around with it, that was fun with the lambs that have never seen it. Billy and Zac were stellar at it with those clean flanks and speed. It felt good to train them all, even if it was just a little for each.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Hamster Agility

This is great! Now i know what sport i'll take up when the price of gas and having to haul a bunch of dogs around gets to be too could carry a bunch of these guys in a backpack!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Meg at 5 Months

Here's the video of Meg from saturday, at 5.5 months old. This is her second go at sheep. We tried last weekend but the sheep were racing around like fools. This time it went much better!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Waiting Begins and Waiting Ends

Hopefully, on or about August 1st, we'll have some miniature versions of these two born. Zac and Chris were bred this week and there are several of us waiting anxiously for an ultrasound on June 23rd to see if she took. I'm trying to not get overly excited after the disappointment of Gael's negative ultrasound when i tried to breed her this past winter, but it's hard not to. They should be good all around pups, nice natured and dead keen for work. Zac and Chris are very similar dogs so i'm hoping the pups will be pretty consistent. It's going to be a very long couple of weeks of waiting for that ultrasound.

But speaking of waiting, at least some of it is over. I got Meg out on sheep yesterday and she turned on and looked great! She's just now 5 months old but was pretty serious and determined. It was great fun to watch her little brain working so hard. I liked what i saw quite a lot. I hope to get a copy of video someone there shot, but in the meantime, here are a couple of pictures.
And a bonus picture of Bill, just because i like it - Julie, Laura and i were fooling around with the camera yesterday while working dogs. Wish i could erase that weed!
And a bonus, bonus picture of Spottie, who is back home now (long story!). She's staring at Julie's very patient cat Jelly Bean.