Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Clinic Weekend

Coming up this weekend at the farm -- a training clinic with Tommy Wilson. I'm really looking forward to this. Tommy has been in the dogs for ages and he's a real "dog man" in my mind. Shepherd, trainer, life long dog man both in Scotland and the US, yep, the real deal. I've always admired Tommy's way with training and running dogs, so quiet and trusting. Some of the trial runs that stand out in my mind after so many years of doing this sheepdog stuff star Tommy and his wonderful little bitch Sly. I'll never forget their quiet mastery of the Bluegrass course a few years ago. Goosebump-worthy.

Now to figure out which one of my dogs to actually enter in the clinic...

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Catching up, again

I bet if i went back and looked, the theme "catching up" would be the most frequent on my blog. Time just manages to squeak on past. So, here we go again.

The dogs are clipping along. Zac is happy and bouncy and wishing i'd work him more. Of course, i could be a full time shepherd with a thousand ewes and only him for help, and Zac would still be wishing i'd work him more. I think he'll go to his grave with "sheep, sheep, sheep" running through his brain. I pulled him out and worked him some this past weekend and he's surely achieved that place of "an old pair of gloves", where we know each other so well and fit together so nicely. Bill is fat and happy, and i'm hoping we change that to fit and happy in the near future. It's about time to start thinking about shaking off the winter layer and getting ready for spring trials. Zeke and Joe have been getting more of my training attention, with Joe getting the larger part of that. I'm still trying to figure out where Zeke fits into my trial line up. He's such a good work dog, and i'd like him to be my #2 Open dog when Zac is ready to retire. Joe seems to be working his way into the line up as well. He just turned two and if he could just cool his overly keen self down a bit, he'd be dangerous on the trial field. I'm trying to remember that his father Zac was the same way at this age, maybe even worse about it, and he's ended up okay. Time will tell. Spot and Devin are now 10 months old and i'm playing around with them a little here and there on sheep. No big hurry on them, they're going to be pretty sensible.

All is well at the farm. I've got the flock numbers back up to a reasonable number, with a few bred to lamb in March. It'll be fun to have lambs around again after not lambing at all last year. I've switched back over to mostly hair sheep after having a wool flock for a few years. It's kind of nice to look out and see some color out in the pasture again, with a few reds and some dorper crosses as well. I like having a few of the wool sheep and some hair sheep as well, good for mixing and matching for training.

There are a couple of events coming up at the farm. First, i have Tommy Wilson lined up for a clinic February 2-3. Then at the end of March, we're having a "Rhyme puppy" get together. Kim is coming in from MI to visit with Rhyme, and I've invited pups and owners from all 3 of her litters to come out to the farm. That should be fun and i plan to get lots of pictures of the Bill and Zac pups.

So that's the latest goings on around here. Trial season is in a lull right now so not much to report there. That will change in the late spring as we start ramping up for summer travel and work our way towards the Finals in VA in October. I'm hoping for one or perhaps even two trips out west this summer so hopefully blog posting will be more interesting as we start leaning in that direction!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Ruff Tough Kennels

A while back i bought some of these Ruff Tough Kennels to try out. They're one piece of molded plastic and very strong. However, i wasn't very impressed with the plastic door. I was even less impressed when Zeke managed to open the door and let himself out. The company remade the doors with longer posts and sent me one. Well, Zeke can still push it open. This past weekend he did just that, breaking the plastic in the process. It scares me to think about what could have happened if he'd gotten his head out between the door and crate and been unable to push all the way through - i could have easily come back to a dead Zeke, strangled there. I've been in contact with the company and am waiting on a response, but felt i needed to get the word out about this potential hazard. I'll update when i hear something back. They've been very responsive so far.
Edited to add: I'm waiting on a couple of metal doors to be sent to me. I'm hopeful this will help with my own kennels, but it sounds like these are about the last metal doors the company has lying around. I really quite like the kennels themselves, but i wouldn't recommend them for determined escape artists with the plastic/composite doors. They'll be fine for most of my dogs, but not for Zeke. I'll update again after i get the doors and test them out with Zeke.