Monday, July 19, 2010

July update

Ever have one of those weeks or two that just zip past at warp speed and then suddenly realize you have to slow down and take a breather? Well’s, it has been one of those for me. After the last trial, I thought that I would have some free time…was that ever a disillusion.

I decided to stay home the July 4th weekend as a sheep buyer had purchased some sheep and was goig to pick them up, but he delayed it a few days so I decided to train dogs and just do farm chores. Kathleen and Janet brought the flock back to the farm so we could worm them. We wormed everyone and all the sheep were healthy. Since we had the flock home, we put our dogs through their paces. A bunch of students worked dogs and they did great. A lot of them have come far in the time they have been coming here and they showed it this weekend. Liz worked her two ACD ( ) and they worked the flock and did nice outruns. Zack loves to do work that has meaning behind it and taking the sheep of the horse was good for him. We made it fun for him and he was going out with gusto. Gabby, the younger ACD, was casting out nice and rating quite well. She has come far and is a joy to work.

Mattie and Ross came out with Oli. He is a Border Collie for cattle dog lines. I am very impressed on this crew as Ross just started with Oli. Soon he had him casting out nicely and doing walkabout. Ross is one of the quickest students to learn and get it. I really like them and they will be going places with their Oli. Those are a few of the students that came out that I mentioned but the others are good students too.

I worked Torq (now renamed Ben) in the round pen. He is getting better and being more sensible. He loves to work and has a very high drive and starting to learn to hit balance. Tam is learning to deepen and finish his outrun. He is also very driven and intense. He has decided that you being part of his package is far better than trying to herd solo as that doesn’t work. Taff is trying to work with me more now. He used to look past me but now is looking at me. We are working on him being wider off stock, slowing down, and being calm. He is afraid of losing control and I am trying to teach him, that speed kills and being slow is more effective. He also tries to anticipate what flanks I am going to give him.

Roo is getting better and we are syncing more and more. I enjoy working him now and I see part of Tess in him but then shades of Pleat come out. He is making me a better handler but stepping up to the plate. He doesn’t try to be bad but is pushy, that I can live with.

Nan is her perfect self so what do I need to say? Actually, I am using her for chores so she has to feel her stock more and rely less on me, meaning he has to thinks than be reactive to my commands. She wants to be perfect, which is fine, but I want her to feel the stock and place herself at the right spot than have me do it for her. She loves to work in the stall and is an amazing stall dog, which is great, considering a couple of years ago, she was frantic!

Tess has been her steady self, being there for me when I need her. She loves to put the ducks, chickens, turkeys and guineas away each night and takes pride in her work. The Guineas are wild as heck, scatter and fly all over, squawk and are spooky. Tess handles them with ease, backing off as needed, and puts them away with no issue. If I use Roo, they will fly into the tree or fly off. If I don’t put them away, they are in danger from owls, coyotes or eagles.

The Fourth was crazy here out in the country. The neighbors lit of M80 and M100 , which freaked out Taff and Nan. I got some Tranquil and gave it to them and it worked. Nan dozed at my feet and when the fireworks went off, she looked up at me, I clicked my clicker, dropped a treat into her mouth and she was fine. She got many treats and didn’t freak out. Taff hid in his igloo with his bone.

I got three new kennels for the barn dogs. It is 2 x 4 welded mesh and we put a cattle panel on the roof so it would be escape proof. Taff will climb out of the kennel or hit the door so hard, that it will pop off and then escape. He always comes back to me but it is dangerous. Tam will bounce at the door and pop it off or try to chew on the wire. With the new kennel, no one has escaped. It seems like every time the dogs escape, I am at work and Getty is home. He wasn’t happy about having to chase dogs so I had to fix the situation. I plan on getting more but saving my money to get more as they are pricey. They are well worth it though.

On the last day of the four days off on the July 4th weekend, we had a Chute Practice. Kathleen and Emma, Janet and Scott and Pam and Colin came over for that. First of all, my sheep are not pen trained and they never saw a chute. My Good ness, you would think it was a monster by their reaction. We made the chute very wide and that was a bust. So we resorting to putting hay and grain in and that hardly worked but we finally got the sheep to go through it. The dogs were slicing and by that, the sheep bolted. We worked on squaring the dogs out and making them go out more. We changed the sheep out and also moved the chute around, made it a funky gaping pen and all sorts of styles. By the end of the day, everyone was much better and chute masters. Colin, the kelpie made a huge impact on the sheep. The ewes were some of my older ewes and they ran the fastest that I have even seen them go. Zippy to the far end of the pasture then zippy to the other end. Colin worked them and got them settled down. He had to work hard that he wasn’t a wolf. He had a lot of power and was using it.

Kathleen saw that her Emma was slicing and some she had be backed out and square and marched the ewes through. When the ewes did slip out it was due to her not covering her side and soon she got that hole covered. Of course, all during this we ribbed the victim, err, I mean the student who was out there. I demoed a few key parts with each dog so people could see that point at that given moment.

We took breaks, fiddled around, ate lunch and enjoyed each other company. Janet showed that her handling skills had improved by trusting her dogs and soon, she had the chute down part. It was amazing to see the difference from the beginning of the lesson to the end.

I remarked at the end that I would hope that they would beat me at the Mt Vernon Highland Games in the Maltese Cross section and they laughed and I was serious. As it was, they did beat me, I was proud of them as their hard work, and commitment did pay off. In the next few days, I will post pixs and a blog on it. They are good people with good dogs and have good hearts. Life is grand when you have that.

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